Friedrich Engels

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PENGU!N MODERN MASTERS Edited by Frank Kermode

Friedrieh Engels by David M(�Lellan

"David Mclellan has become a past master at this kind of lucid and informative summary; no doubt future generations of students will be greatly in his debt." -British Book News


FRIE DRICH ENGE LS David McLellan was born in England in I940 and educated at Oxford, the University of Pari s , and the University of Frankfort. He i s presently a Reader in Political Theory at the University of Kent, and he has lec tured in the United States at Prince ton , Northwestern , Vanderbilt, and other universitie s .





The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx, Marx before Marxism , Karl Marx: His Life and Thought, and Karl Marx, also in the Modern Masters series. Frank Kermode, King Edward VII Profes sor of English Literature at Cambrid ge , is the author of

The Classic; D.H. Lawrence; Shakespeare, Spen­ ser, Donne; and other widely acclaimed critic al s tudies.


ALBERT CAMUS I Conor Cruise O'Brien FRANTZ FANON I pavid �aute

HERBERT MARCUSE I Alasdair Macintyre CHE GUEVARA I Andrew Sinclair


GEORGE LUKACS I George Lichtheim


MARSHALL MCLUHAN I Jcnathan Miller GEORGE ORWELL I Raymond Williams SIGMUND FREUD I Richard Wollheim



NORMAN MAILER I Richard Poirier

V. I. LENIN I Robert Conquest EINSTEIN I Jeremy Bernstein C. G. JUNG I Anthony Storr

D. H. LAWRENCE I Frank Kermode



SAMUEL BECKETT/A. Alvarez R. D. LAING/Edgar Z. Friedenberg

MAX WEBER/Donald G. MacRae

MARCEL PROUST I Roger Shattuck LE CORBUSIER I Stephen Gardiner

CLAUDE LE VI-STRAUSS (Rev. Ed.)/Edmund Leach


FRANZ KAFKA /Erich Heller

KARL MARX/David McLellan


T. S. ELIOT I Stephen Spender

EZRA POUND/Donald Davie







frank kermode

By Modern Masters we mean the men who have changed

a nd

are changing the life and thought

of our age. The authors of these volumes are

themselves masters, and they have written their boohs in tlze belief that general discussion of tlzeir su bjects will l1encefor th be more informed and more exciting th a n el•er b ef ore -F. X. .

friedrich engels david

me lellan


Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England Penguin Books, 625 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022, U.S.A. Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia Penguin Books Canada Limited, 2801 John Street, Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R lB4 Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand First published in Great Britain by Fontana 1977 First published in the United States of America in simultaneous hardcover and paperback editions by The Viking Press and Penguin Books 1978 Copyright® David McLellan, 1977 All rights reserved LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA

McLellan, David. Friedrich Engels. First published in 1977 under title: Engels. r. Engels, Friedrich, 1820-1895. 2. Communists-Biography. I. Title.



78-17161 335-4'092'4 [ B ] ISBN 0 14 00.49 35 5

Printed in the United States of America by Kingsport Press, Inc., Kingsport, Tennessee Set in Linotype Primer

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser


Biographical Note Preface

i I Life




ii I History


iii I Politics


iv I Philosophy


v I Conclusion: Engels and Marx Short Bibliography Index

1 13

1 09




November 28. Birth in Barmen


Work in father's firm, Barmen




High school in Elberfeld

Clerical work in Bremen

Military service in Berlin


November. First meeting with Marx


Beginning of collaboration with Marx; "Out­


Work in father's firm in Manchester

lines of a Critique of Political Economy"

Moves to Brussels;

The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 The German Ideology (with Marx)

Communist League activities in Paris and London

Work on Neue Rheinische Zeitung in Co­


Biographical Note


Collapse of revolution; military campaign in Sou th Germany; sails to London


Moves to Manchester to work in the firm of Ermen and Engels Begins writing for New York Daily Tribune (under Marx's name)


Death of father


Death of Mary Burns


Leaves Ermen and Engels


Moves back to London


Work for First International


Death of mother


Work on Dialectics of Nature




Death of Lizzie Burns


Death of Marx


The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State


Volume Two of Capital








Classical German Philosophy President of Zurich Congress of Second In­ ternational Volume Three of Capital Preface to Marx's Class Struggles in France August. Death of Engels


This book is an attempt to give a brief descrip tion of Engels' life and thought. It begins with a bio­ graphical sketch , continues with chapters on vari­ ous aspects of Engels' thought, and has a conclu­ sion th at aims to deline ate ( l argely through a contrast with Marx ) Engels' own contribution to the Marxist tradition . It is in this last area that Engels is most cle arly a Modern Master. It is true that he did pioneering work of a sort in such dis­ parate fields as anthropology, urban sociology , and guerrilla tactics, but his chief claim to influence in the modern world is that it was he who gave deci­ sive shape to the world view that c ame to be known as dialectical materialism. The millions



who have given their allegiance to orthodox com­ munism have been indebted primarily to Engels for their understanding of communist doctrine-at least in the fields of history and philosophy. I am grateful to my friends Gay Sharp and

Graham Thomas for reading parts of the manu­ script and much improving it s style.



1 Nothing in Friedrich Engels' ance stry or up­ bringing foreshadowed the future revolu tion­ ary. A prosperous business family , a strongly religious ethos, and a contempt for learning ( which did not even allow Engels to finish his schooling ) do not seem fertile ground for the breeding of soci alist intellectuals. The for­ tunes of the family , which was, according to one of its traditions, of Huguenot origin ( formerly n amed D'Ange ) , had been se­ curely established by Engels' great-grand­ father, Johann Caspar Engels . He created a bleaching and spinning works in B armen near Diisseldorf in the Rhineland. Engels' father





took his share of the business into a partnership with the brothers Godfrey and Peter Ennen to form a prosperou s enterprise with factories both in B armen and in Manchester. His wife, a much gen­ tler, more sensitive and humorous person than he, c ame from a family of Dutch schoolteachers . Their son Friedrich, born on November 28, 1 8 20, was the elde�t of a family of eight. B armen is situated in the most industrialized are a of Germany -it was known as "little Man­ chester"- and afforded constant evidence of the progress and effects of the Industrial Revolution . It was also a center of a strict Pietism which flour­

ished in the early nineteenth century as a reaction against the rationalism of the French Revolution . Like the English Puritans, the Pie tists held to the literal tru th of the Bible, were intolerant of differ­ ing views, and frowned on the pursuit of worldly pleasures. The enthusiasm of Engels' father for bu siness was only matched by his attachment to the church , and young Friedrich's early life was shaped by a struggle against both . He attended high school in Elberfeld, near B armen, and during his last years decided to de­ vote his life to literature , but his father insisted th at he enter the family bu siness in Barmen, which he did at the e arly age of sixteen and spent a year learning its rudimen ts and writing poetry in his



spare time . In 1 838 his father sent him to continue his businessman's apprentice ship in the Hanseatic port of Bremen . Here Engels began to enj oy ex­ periences impossible within the narrow confines of B armen . In the office of Consul Leupold, where he helped as an uns alaried clerk, work was not strictly supervised and there was plenty of free time for beer drinking and reading during office hours . Engels was given a key to his lodgings and enj oyed to the full the cosmopolitan social life of Bremen . He wrote to one of his friends, "to get the most out of life you must be active, you must live , and you must have the courage to taste the thrill of being youn g." His reading was voracious and wide. In particu­ lar his views on religion began to evolve under the influence of David S trauss and Friedrich Schleimacher, radical theologians who attacked the dogmatic foundations of orthodox Christianity. "I have come to the conclusion," Engels wrote, "only to treat a teaching as divine if it can defend itself before the bar of reason ." His developing views were expressed in t he articles that he began to get published while he was in Bremen. These consisted mainly of vivid des criptions of that city's social life but included a series with some biting criticism of social conditions in the Wupper valley. Engels declared himself a disciple of the Young






German Movement, a literary group whose mem­ bers ( the most prominent being the poet Heinrich Heine) were radical in politics , very liberal in re­ ligion, and had a m arked interest in social ques­ tions. But Engels soon found his chosen c areer of lit­ erature insufficiently satisfying and turned to philosophy. At that time Berlin was the site of Germany's le ading university and the center of the radical Hegelianism that Engels was beginning to find so attractive . He was therefore glad to leave Bremen in April 1 84 1 and , after six months at home , to go and do his military service in Berlin as a one-ye ar volunteer in the Guards Foot Artillery . He immediately j oined the company of the Young Hegelian s - a group of young intellectuals who wished to use Hegel's ideas, p articularly those of dialectic and negativity, to develop a critique of contemporary religion and politics . Hegel had viewed history as the progress of Spirit in which e ach historical epoch with its attendant ideas was only a passing stage , due to be negated and transcended dialectic ally by the next stage . The Young Hegelians wished to explore the way in which the religious and political ide as of their own a ge were destined to give rise to a more satisfac­ tory view of the world. As Engels himself wrote later:



The doctrine of Hegel , taken as a whole , left plenty of room for giving shelter to the most di­ verse practical party views . And in the theoreti­ cal Germany of that time two things above all were prac tical : religion and politics . Whoever placed chief emphasis on the Hegelian system could be fairly conservative in both spheres; who­ ever regarded the dialectical method as the main thing could belong to the most extreme opposi­ tion , both in politics and religion . Engels arrived i n Berlin at the brief flowering o f the Young Hegelian Movement. Following the accession of Frederick William IV, censorship re­ strictions were briefly lifted, and Lu dwig Feuer­ bach had j ust published his Essence of Christian­

ity , which claimed to show that religion was merely the proj ection onto God of man's inn ate desires and capacities - a thesis whose combina­ tion of m aterialism and humanism aroused wide­ spread enthusiasm among his fellow Young He­ gelians . According to Engels , "we ail became Feuerb achians." Engels' arrival in Berlin also coin­ cided with the much heralded course o f inaugural lectures by the old Friedrich Schelling, who had been a friend and colleague of Hegel's in his youth but was now recalled to Berlin by the government to stem the tide of radical He gelianism. Engels attacked Schellin g's rather mystical defense of





orthodox Christianity in two anonymous pam­ phlets which m arke d his final break with the reli­ gion of his youth . By their vigorous defense of Hegelianism and contempt for orthodox religion they attracted widespread attention and curiosity about the author-who was at first thought to be the Russian anarchist Mich ael B akunin. On ter�inating his military service in October 1 842 Engels took a trip that gave his life its defini­ tive orien tation . A stop in Cologne on the way home had as its immediate purpose to meet the editors· of the Rheinische Zeitung , a radical news­ paper, founded by Rhenish industrialists to propa­ gate their liberal doctrines, which had opened its columns to the Berlin Young Hegelians. The mov­ ing spirit behind the paper-at least in its in­ ception-was Moses Hess, known as "the com­ munist rabbi." Like Engels, Hess came from a prosperous business family but had educated him­ self toward communism . In a series of books writ­ ten in a meandering s tyle and almost messianic tone, Hess had been the first of the Young Hegeli­ ans to proclaim a version of communism . Strongly influenced by French sociology and particularly the Utopian socialism of the Comte de Saint Simon, with its positive emphasis on the develop­ ment of industry, Hess turned Hegel's philosophy toward the future and asserted that Feuerb ach's



philosophical humanism and the French political notions of class struggle were about to be put into practice through a communist revolution in the most economic ally advanced coun try-England . These ideas had a profound effect on Engels . Hess wrote concerning their meeting : "We talked of questions of the day. Engels, who was revolu­ tion ary to the core when he met me, left as a passionate Communist." Engel s therefore decided to unite his busine ss career and politic al interest by going to work for a time in his father's fac tory in Manchester, situa ted in the industrial heart­ land of the country of the future . On his way there he stopped off again in Cologne and this time met the youthful editor of the Rheinische Zeitung, Karl Marx. The meeting was a cool one . Marx saw in Engels merely a representative of the Berlin Young Hegelians with whom he was on the point of breaking since they considered the paper to be, according to Marx, "above all a vehicle for theolog­ ical propaganda, atheism, etc., instead of political discussion and action ." Engels, however, contin­ ued after his arrival in England to write for the

Rheinische Zeitung in the manner wished for by Marx. Engels' stay in Manchester from 1 842 to 1 844 was de cisive for his intellec tual development . "In Manches ter," he wrote later,







i t was forcibly brought to my notice that eco­ nomic factors, hitherto ignored or at least under­ e stimated by historians , play a decisive role in the development of the modern world. I learnt that economic factors were the basic cause of the clash be tween different classes in society. And I re alised th at in a highly industrialized country like England the clash of social classes lay at the very root of the rivalry between parties and was of fundamental significance in tracing the course of modern political history . While i n Manchester, Engels continued his cor­ respondence for German papers and in particular sent two articles to the Deutsch-Franzosische ]ahrbiicher which Marx was editing in Paris fol­ lowing the suppression of the Rheinische Zeitung . One of these, "Ou tlines of a Critique of Political Economy," proclaimed in s tark and simple lan­ guage the idea of the inevitable impoverishment of the working class and consequent revolution . It was this article which directed M�ux's attention to the subj ect of economic s . Thus, when Engels passed through Paris in September 1 844 on his way back to the Rhineland, he and Marx had an entirely different encounter from that of the previ­ ous ye ar: "When I visited Marx in Paris in the summer of I 844 we found ourselves in complete



agreement on questions of theory and our col­ laboration began at th at time . " Engels' most immediate task on returning to Barmen in 1 844 was to write up the material he had gathered in Manchester into his classic indict­ ment of early British capitalism , The Condition of the Vforking Class in England in 1844 . It is ironic that this was written while Engels was enj oying board and lodging in his father's house. Since he was also helping Hess organize public meetings to spre ad communist propaganda , friction was in­ evitable . Engels has left a vivid description : I am indeed living a dog's life here. All the re­ ligious fanaticism of my old man has been aroused by the Communist meetings and by the "dissolute character" of several of our local Com­ munists with whom I am of course in close con­ tact. And the old man's wrath has been increased by my firm refusal to go into petty trading. Finally my appearance in public as an avowed Communist has arou sed in him a truly middle­ class fury. Now try to put yourself in my place . Since I want to leave in a fortnight or so, I can­ not afford to have a row. So I simply ignore all the criticisms of the family. They are not u sed to that so they get even angrier . . . . You can h ave no notion of the sheer malice that lies behind this wild Christian hunt after my "soul."







Tension got so bad that Engels eventually decided to j oin Marx in Brussels, where Marx had moved after his expulsion from Paris for subversive j our­ nalism . The three subsequent years there were the only ones before his retirement during which Engels could devote himself full time to political activities untroubled by the burden of his father's business. He and Marx lived in adj oining houses and de­ voted themselves to the twin proj ects of working out in detail their newly acquired views of the world and getting them accepted by the nascent working-class movement . In the summer of I 845 the two friends made a trip to England, where Engels could act as Marx's guide , and on their return they j ointly composed The German Ideology -a rich polemic against their former Young Hegelian colleagues, aiming at "self-clarifi­ c ation" and containin g probably the most ex­ tended description of their m aterialist conception of history that they ever wrote. In order to get their views accepted, Engels and Marx had to m ake some impact on the German emigre workers' association that flourished in Paris , Brussels , and London and replace the rather vague Utopian communism that had previously inspired them . According to a German worker of the time, Engels was "tall and slim , his movements



were quick and vigorous, his manner of speaking brief and decisive , his carriage erect, giving a sol­ dierly touch . He was of a very lively nature ; his wit was to the point. Everybody who associated with him inevitably got the impression that he was dealing with a man of great intelligence." Still supported financially by his family, he spent sev­ eral months proselytizing German workers in Paris, where the main emigre organization , the League of the Just, had originally operated. Its center was now in London , and from there an emissary arrived in early 1 847 asking for the assis­


tance of Engels and Marx in drafting a coherent theory and program of action for the League . Engels went to London in June 1 847 as Paris dele­ gate to attend a congress of the League, and in November both he and Marx participated in a final ses sion in which they were commissioned to draw up a Communist manifesto-the League having meanwhile changed its name to Commu­ nist League . Engels produced a first draft and Marx the final version , but before it could be dis­ tributed, the series of revolutions th at shook most European countries during 1 848 had begun in Paris. After a brief stay in Paris, Engels and Marx set­ tled in Cologne. The Communist Le ague was dis­ solved as being unnecessary under the newly





granted freedom of association and speech, and the two friends turned their attention to j ournal­ ism. As Marx's main assistant on the Neue Rhein­ ische Zeitung, Engels played an active role during 1 848, the annus mirabilis of revolution in Europe . He was a radical j ournalist on a paper with wide and increasing circulation which aimed more at stiffening the opposition of the radical bourgeoisie to the mon archy than at directly promoting the working-class cause. His articles dealt mainly with foreign policy, and his vividness of style and quick composition made him indispensable . By the au­ tumn of i 848, however, the crisis of revolution in Germany had passed and Engels, since he had been prominent in several anti-government dem­ onstrations and a warrant was out for his arrest, fled to France . At a time when the counter-revolution was pre­ paring decisive blows, Engels decided to embark on a walking tour of France . He m ade his leisurely way to Switzerland by way of the valleys of the Seine and Loire and the Burgundy region . The ebullient description that he wrote of his travels combined insight s into the profoundly conserva­ tive nature of the French peasantry with lyrical appreciations of his enj oyment of "the sweetest grapes and loveliest of girls."



Engels remained in Switzerland until mid­ January 1 84 9 when the possibility of arrest had diminished sufficiently for him to be able to return to Cologne . But the revolutionary wave was al­ most spent and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung was suppressed in May. There were desperate popular risings in the Rhinel and and in sou thern Germany, and Engels re turned to Elberfeld to pu t his mili­ tary expertise at the service of the insurgents . But the more middle-class elements of the citizen militia considered that Engels' presence might "give rise to misunderstandings of the na ture of the Movement" and he was asked to withdraw. ( The story that Engels, red-s ashed on an inspec­ tion of the artillery, met his father on his way to church is unconfirmed . ) Engels made his way to the only remaining focus of armed re sistance -the peasants and petty bourgeoisie of southwest Germany-and served as aide-de-camp to the rebel commander August von Willich throughout the for­ lorn campaign. After the fin al defeat, Engels made his way to Genoa and took ship for London to j oin Marx, who had preceded him in August 1 849. Engels remained in London for one year. Dur­ ing that time he aided Marx's political activities on the central committee of the reconstituted Com­ munist League . Although Chartism was almost dead and London was prep aring for the Great Ex-









hibition of 1 85 1 , Engels and Marx conserved for a brief period their optimism about the imminence of fresh revolutionary outbre aks on the Continent. However, by the autumn of 1850, Marx had come to the conclusion that such an event would h ave to wait on a fre sh economic crisis and therefore broke with those elements in the League which insisted on actively fomenting a revolution irre­ spective of the economic circumstance s . Driven mainly by financial pressure , Engels decided to accede to his father's proposal that he j oin the family firm in Manchester. He arrived there in November 1 850, aged thirty. His expectation of a speedy return to London to participate in fresh revolutionary upheavals proved illusory: he was to s tay in Manchester for the next two decades. Engels' life in Manchester was essentially a double one, divided between busines s and com­ munism . Manchester itself he hated, agreeing with the Chartist leader George Julian Harney that it wa s better "to be hanged in London than die naturally in Manchester." He found the office work monotonous and time-consuming, although his position and status grew to be important. The firm of Ermen and Engels employed about 800 workers in the specialist process of manuf.a cturing sewing thread. It was run by the brothers Peter and Godfrey Ermen , and Engels, although nomi-



nally only the senior clerk, aimed to make himself indispensable to his father by unofficially keeping an eye on the possible misuse of his father's capi­ tal . "The difficulty was," he explained to Marx, "to get an official position here as my father's repre­ senta tive over against the Ermens and yet have no official position inside the firm with consequent work obligations and salary from the firm . " What he termed his "in trigue with my old man" was largely successful, and by 1 854 Engels had an an­ nual salary plus a share in the profits that brought his annual income by the end of the 1 850s to near 20 ,000 in present-day terms. Engels lived most of the time in a terraced house on the outskirts of the city with Mary Burns, an Irish working-cl ass girl whom he had got to know on his first visit to Manchester. Here £

he spent his spare evenings and weekends as a revolu tion ary writer. However, he also maintained bachelor lodgings in the center of the ci ty where he entertained his business friends. Engels knew how to divert himself, particularly through drink­ ing. Marx's daughter Eleanor, then in her teens, has left a description of how, on a visit to Man­ chester during a heat wave, "the ladies lay down on the floor the whole day, drinking beer, cl aret, e tc .," and that was how Engels found them on his re turn from work, "all lying out full length on the






floor, no stays, no boots, and one petticoat and a cotton dress on and that was all ." Engels returned from a party "drunk as a j elly ," and at least one of his friends "got so sloshed th at we had to make up a bed for him in the house ." Engels' relationship with Mary Burns seems to have been a particularly happy one . When she died unexpectedly in 1 8 64, he wrote to Marx : "I cannot tell you what I feel . The poor girl loved me with all her he art . . . . I feel that I have buried with her the last particle of my youth ." Soon after­ ward, Mary's younger sister Lizzie moved in to take her place . Lizzie, Engels wrote later, "was of genuine Irish proletarian stock and her passionate inn ate feeling for her class was of far gre ater value to me and stood me in better stead at mo­ ments of crisis than all the refinement and culture of your educated and aesthetic young ladies." Engels also went in for several of the activities beloved of the Manchester bourgeoisie : he at­ tended the Halle concerts ; he bought a fine stal­ lion and rode regularly with the Cheshire Hunt; and he was a prominent member of two prosper­ ous club s-the Albert Club and the Schiller Insti­ tute-eventually becoming chairman of the latter. Several times a ye ar he and Marx would stay with each other in London ·or Manchester, and Engels maintained a wide circle of friends in Manchester,



includin g Dr. Gumpert, a distinguished pedia­ trician, Samuel Moore, a barrister who was to trans­ late Capital into English, and Karl Schorlemmer, who held the first English chair in organic chem­ is try. This full social life was combined with consider­ able activity promoting the communist cause . Engels wrote regularly for the New York Daily Tribune under Marx's name, as his friend had neither the time nor, initially, the necessary com­ mand of English. Engels wro te particularly on the Crimean War and on Ne ar-Eastern and Far­ Eas tern affairs and also produced two maj or anti­ Bonapartist pamphlets. This j ournalism was backed up by extremely wide reading in military science and his tory, including a considerable man­ us cript on Irish history that was never published. Engels also assiduously followed the latest devel­ opments in the natural sciences-for example , the discovery of the cell and the formulation of the laws of energy. The pace of his life, in addition to business wor­ ries, led to a breakdown in Engels' health ­ glandular fever, piles, and a nervous breakdown in 1 860 which coincided with his father's death and the consequent negotiations over the future of the family business. His brother-in-law Emil Blank had to come over from Germany, as Engels was,




on his own account, "incapable of taking a single necessary decision ." In the event, Jenny Marx's hope that Engels would become "a great cotton­ lord" was fulfilled : his father's legacy en abled him to put £ 1 0 ,000 of his own into the business and become a p artner with a 20 percent share of the profits and 5 percent interest on his c apital . Ten­ sion with the Ermen brothers nevertheless con­ tinued , and Engels was glad to be able to negoti­ ate the end of his partnership in I 869. The terms enabled him to retire at the age of fifty and live the life of a gentleman of independent means. Eleanor Marx wrote: I was with Engels when he reached the end of his forced labour and I s aw what he must have gone through all those years . I shall never forget the triumph with which he exclaimed "for the last time !" as he put on his boots in the morning to go to his office . A few hours l ater we were standing at the gate waiting for him . We saw him coming over the little field opposite the house where we lived. He was swinging his stick in the air and singing, his face beaming. Then we set the table for a celebration and drank champagne and were happy .

On moving to London in 1 870, Engels rented a sizable house in Regent's Park Road , about fifteen minutes' walk from Marx , whom he visited almost



daily. Lizzie Burns died in 1 878 (Engels married her on her deathbed ) , and her niece Pumps looked after his household. On Marx's death in 1 883 , Engels' friends urged him to return to Ger­ many. "But," he replied , "my fifty years of service in the International Socialist Movement m ade it impossible for me to put myself forward as the representative of any one national socialist party," and he decided to remain in his "pe aceful asylum" in London. Helene Demuth acted as Engels' house­ keeper for seven years , to be replaced finally by Louise , the ex-wife of Karl Kautsky, the j ournalist from Prague who was one of the young theoreti­ cians of the German party. At weekends Engels entertained his London friends and kept open house for foreign visitors. Edward Aveling, Elea­ nor Marx's common-law husband, wrote that "a list of those who were always welcome at 1 2 2 Regent's Park reads like a condensed epitome of the Social­ ist Movement." At last freed from the burden of busine ss, En­ gels could now devote himself full time to his twin pursuits of socialist scholarship and of being polit­ ical adviser to the growing socialist parties . Dur­ ing the 1 870s he spent "the best part of 8 years" studying science and mathematics, researches which led to the posthumou sly published manu­ script on the Dialectics of Nature . His abiding




interest in pre-history and anthropology led to a very popular work on The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the St ate; published in 1 8 84. But his most widely disseminated book was the polemic of l 878 against the socialist intellectual Eugen Di.ihring, which set out a system atic and comprehensive "Marxist" interpre tation of the world and, under the title Anti-Dilhring, became the basic guide for a whole new generation of Marxists. Engels' m ain efforts, however, went into editing Marx's drafts of Capital. On Marx's death , Engels was dism ayed to find how sketchy these drafts in fact were . He wrote to the German socialist Au­ gust Behel : "If I had been aware of this, I would not h ave let him rest day or night until everything had been finished and printed . Marx himself knew this better than anyone. " Engels was the only per­ son who could decipher Marx's illegible hiero­ glyphics ; and, in spite of increasing trouble with his eyesight, he m anaged to complete Volume Two , which he dic tated to a secre tary , by 1 885. The more fra gmentary Volume Three proved much more difficult and eventually took ten years to complete . Before his death , Engels initiated . Kautsky and Eduard Bernstein, the two leading p arty intellectuals, into the mystery of Marx's



handwriting, and it was Kautsky who later edited Theories of Surplus Value , otherwise known as the fourth volume of Capita l. This scholarly research wen t hand in hand with close atten tion to the socialist movement. Engels' energies were particularly direc ted toward the German socialist party, which , in spite of Bis­ marck's anti-socialist laws in the l 88os, had grown to one of the largest partie s in Germ any by the time of Engels' de ath . The German Social Demo­ cratic Party ( SPD) had been founded in 1 875 at the Gotha Congress, and Engels, together with Marx , was vigorous in his criticisms of the conces­ sions made in the program to the followers of their great rival Ferdinand Lassalle . Engels had con­ stan tly to oppose , by letters and articles , the ten­ dencies in the party to form a socialism based less exclusively on class struggle than he would have liked. In 1 89 1 , however, he had the satisfaction of helpin g to draw up for the Erfurt Congress a thoroughgoing Marxist program . He also exercised constant influence on the next generation of Marxist leaders : on Wilhelm Liebknecht , who had been Marx's and Engels' disciple from the 1 840s ; on Behel , a lathe operator from Saxony who be­ came the main architect of the party's organiza­ a

tion ; on Bernstein , editor of the party's newspaper





and soon to be protagonist of the revisionist move­ men t ; and on Kautsky, who was to be the party's chief theore tician for the two decades following Engels' death. In addition, Engels maintained a worldwide correspondence . "Every day, every post," wrote Marx's son-in-law Paul Lafargue, "brought to his house newsp apers and letters in every European langu age , and it was as tonishing how he found time, with all his o ther work, to look through , to keep in order and remember the chief contents of them all ." Gradually, however, ill health undermined his cap acity for work. In addition to his weak eye­ sight, rheum atism and bronchitis sometimes con­ fined him to his bed for weeks on end. He was still c apable of celebrating his seven tieth birthday in s tyle; "We kept it up till half-past-three in the morning and drank, besides Clare t , sixteen bottles of champagne -in the morning we had twelve dozen oysters . So you see I did my best to show that I was still alive and kicking." And Engels also traveled : in 1 888 he visited the United States for two months and in 1 892 his work for the Second Intern ational culminated in the triumphant recep­ tion accorded him at the Zurich Congress. How­ ever, in the summer of 1 895 it became clear that Engels had cancer of the throat and he died in August of that year. He left most of his £ 30,000 to



Marx's d aughters . Eleanor inherite d her father's le tters and manuscripts ; the re st went to Bernstein and Behel. In accordance with his wishes , Engels' body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the sea off Be achy Head.



It was in writing history that Engels' talents

found their fullest expression . His gift for de­ scriptive writing and his wide chronological and geographical interests, combined with his linguistic skills and his flexibility in u sing the Marxist framework , m ade him a first-rate his­ torian . He produced an immense number of articles on a wide range of topics , but his maj or contributions are three : his analysis of the English workin g class in the mid-1 84os ; his researches into pre-history; and his at­ tempts to systematize the principles of his­ torical materialism . Engels' study in contemporary history en-



titled The Condition of the Working Class arose directly out of his conversion to communism . He had alre ady pungently summarized his critique of contemporary liberal e conomic theories in the article "Outline s of a Critique of Political Econ­ omy," which had a decisive influence on Marx. This article , published in 1 84 4 , dealt with the fundamental categories of trade, value , rent, and population , and claimed th at economists who were attached to the idea of private property and com­ pe tition could not give an adequate conceptual, still less an adequ ate moral , account of them. Economists cannot afford to accept the tru th . They cannot afford to admit tha t the contradic­ tion of wealth and poverty is simply the con­ sequence of competition . Any such admission would result in the total collapse of their theorie s. Engels' conclusion was that under normal conditions , large capital and large landed property swallow small capital and small landed property . . . . The middle classes must in­ creasingly disappear until the world is divided into millionaires and paupers , into large land­ owners and poor farm labourers . . . . Competition has penetrated into all human relationships and it has completed human bondage in all its as­ pects. Competition is still the great mainspring which repeatedly j erks our dying social order-






or rather disorder-but with each newest effort compe tition also saps a part of the waning strength of our social system . At the end of this article, Engels announced his intention of describing the factory system . This he did in The Condition of the Working Class, which appeared e arly in 1 845 and gave an extended ac­ count of the social impac t of indus trialization at its most advanced point. The book began with a chapter on the Indus­ trial Revolution and its product the industrial proletariat. It was a powerful piece of writing, concise and coherent, only marred, at the begin­ ning, by a ridiculously idyllic picture of the rural life of eighteenth-century England which indus­ trial progres s had so largely replaced. The third chapter, on the great towns, formed the core of Engels' work . He s tarted with London and after discussing the maj or Yorkshire towns concentrated on the Manchester-S alford conurba­ tion which contained almost half a million people and formed the maj or industrial district of E n­ gland. Its wealth was centered on the cotton trade, in which about a third of its population was di­ rectly employed . Engels produces his effect by a vivid attention t o detail, of which the following extract i s a typical example . Describing that bit of Manchester known as Little Ireland , Engels write s :



Masses of refuse, offal, and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all direc tions ; the atmo­ sphere is poisoned by the effluvia from these , and laden and darkened by the smoke of a dozen tall factory chimneys. A hoard of ragged women and children swarm abou t here , as filthy as the swine that thrive upon the garbage heaps and in the pu ddle s. In short the whole rookery furnishes such a hateful and repulsive spectacle as can be hardly equalled in the worst court on the Irk. The race th at live s in these ruinous cottages, behind broken windows , mended with oilskin , sprung doors , and rotten doorposts, or in dark, wet cellars , in measureless filth and stench , in this atmosphere penned in as if with a purpose, this race must really have reached the lowest stage of hum anity . And his general conclu sion was that the working class of the great cities offers a grad­ uated scale of conditions in life , in the best cases a temporarily endurable existence for hard work and good wages, good and endurable , that is, from the workers' standpoint ; in the worst cases, bitter want reaching even homelessness and death by starvation. The average is much nearer the worst cases than the best. Engels then went on to describe the results ac­ cruing from these conditions . He detailed the diseases, particularly consumption, that produced



D R 1 C



"pale, emaciated, narrow-chested and hollow-eyed ghosts." ( In M anchester more th an half the chil­ dren of working-class parents died before the age of five .) He described the illiteracy that had its counterpart in bigotry and fanaticism , and the alcoholism that fostered sexual immorality and ever-increasing crime . There followed an account of the factory system with its exploitation of women and children as cheap l abor, and its spate of accidents and spinal injurie s . Engels particu­ l arly emph asized the power of the mill owners over their operatives in everything from sexual favors to rent and the price of food i n the factory­ owned shops. He then dealt in the s ame m anner with the mines and the agricultural sector. After a chapter on l abor movements in which Engels took recent strikes as evidence that "the decisive battle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is ap­ pro aching," he discussed the attitude of the mid­ dle classes toward the workers, concentrating on their greed and hypocrisy as exemplified in the Poor Law. He concluded by decl aring that only communism could overcome class antagonisms and heal the increasingly bitter social conflicts. The Condition of the Working Class was a pioneering work in the relatively modern fields of urban geography and sociology, and Engels, al­ though only twenty-four years old , was singularly



well equipped to write it. Much of the impressive­ ness of the book springs from his evidently first­ hand acquaintance with his material, both as a businessman and through his active socialist con­ tacts . Engels had a quite extraordinary gift for conveying in words his own personal experiences , and the descriptive passages o f the book give i t its main impact. He also made excellen t u se of gov­ ernment publications and statistics ( much as Marx did in Capita l ) . Although i t has recently been argued on the basis of statistics that the working class was becoming incre asingly better off during the period Engels was describing and that there­ fore his account i s biased and unreliable , this view is extremely dubious, and Engels' descriptions can be taken, by and large , as probably the best piece of contemporary evidence available . Engels rightly claimed th at his book was unique for its time in that it dealt with the English working class as a whole , but it went even further. His descrip­ tion of the working class was embedded in an analysis of the evolution of industrial capitalism which lent it a coherent historical, and to some extent conceptual , framework . For example, Eng­ els was able here to deal at greater length with concepts that he had briefly mentioned in his "Outline of a Critique of Political Economy"-the significance of the drive to larger and larger busi_





nesses, the reserve army of the unemployed that could be called on in times of expansion, and the periodicity of crisis. The main weakness of the book, which does not detract from its general value , was in its predic­ tions. Engels wrote , for example, of the speedy collapse of society as being "as certain as a mathe­ matical or mechanical demons tration . " Such hasty statements were made under the impact of the worst slump of the nineteenth century-that of the early I 84os. In the event, this crisis proved to be the forerunner of a major boom in heavy industry, based m ainly on railway expansio n. In this re­ spect , the best comment is that of Marx, some twenty years later : I have read your book again and I have realized that I am not getting any younger. What power, what incisiveness and what passion drove you to work in those days ! That was a time when you were never worried by academic scholarly reser­ vations ! Those were the days when you made the re ader feel that your theory would be come hard fact, if not tomorrow then at any rate on the day after. Yet that very illusion gave the whole work a human warmth and a touch of humour that makes our later writings-where "black and white" have become "grey and grey"-seem posi­ tively distasteful.

His tory


Engels had an exception ally broad and abiding interest in his tory. For example , immediately fol­ lowing the failure of 1 848, and in an attempt to understand its causes, he wrote an insigh tful series of articles on The Peasant War in Germany , argu­ ing that there were startling resemblances be­ tween the combina tion of nobles and burghers in the sixteenth century to crush the peasants' revolt and the even tual alliance in 1 8 48 be tween the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy against the nascent proletariat. "From 1 5 1 7 to 1 5 2 5 ," wrote Engels , "Luther underwent quite the same changes as the present-day German constitutionalists did be­ tween 1 846 and 1 849, and which are undergone by every bourgeois party, which , placed for a while a t the head o f the movement , i s overwhelmed b y the plebeian proletarian party standing behind it." His re al hero was the Reformation le ader Thomas Munzer, who "went far beyond the immediate ide as and demands of the plebeian peasants and firs t organized a party of the elite of the then exist­ ing revolutionary elements which , inasmuch as it shared his ide as and energy, always remained only a small minority of the insurgent masses ." Engels' historical interests were also reflected in an impressive section of Anti-Dii.hring devoted to refuting the Di.ihring view that force wa s the fun­ damental factor in historical development : the use








of force was i tself dependent on underlying eco­ nomic conditions. Engels decided to republish this section as a separate book ( with the title Social­ ism, Utopian and S cientific ) , adding a very fine chapter on the role of force in the last three dec­ ades of German history. This dealt specifically with Bismarck's policy of uniting Germany on the b asis of an alliance between the l and-owning aristocracy and the bourgeoisie and his final fail­ ure through relying excessively on the large land­ owners whose economic power was in decline. Engels also became one of the very few civilian experts in the specialist field of military history and techniques. He had had military experience in the B aden rising of l 849, of which he wrote a brilliant des criptive account . During the 1 850s he contributed numerous articles on military affairs to the press in America , Britain , and Germany. In 1 859 he enhanced his reputa tion in Germany by writing a pamphlet en titled Po and R hine which argued that Germ any's security could be quite adequately guaranteed withou t Austria's occupa­ tion of northern Italy , which merely served to alienate the Italians . In spite of his inaccurate pre­ diction of the ou tcomes of both the American Civil War and the Austro-Prussian War of 1 866, Engels m ade a great impression by the expertness of his articles on the Franco-Pru ssian War of 1 870 , pub-


lished in the Pall Mall Gazette . He also drew



det aile d plans for the Commune's defense of Paris. Lenin, in particular, was much influenced by Engels' writings on military affairs and on armed insurrection. The older Engels grew, the further b ack in time he carried his historical interests. Agrarian history -on which M arx considered him an expert-was a particular focus of his a ttention. These re­ searches on primitive socie ties bore fruit in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the S tate, published in 1 884. It relied heavily on Lewis Morgan's book Ancient Society , published in 1 8 77, on which Marx had been working for some con­ siderable time before his death . Engels described his book as "the execution of a bequest" in that he used Marx's notes, though Engels based himself much more exclusively on Morgan than did Marx, who viewed Morgan as one au thority among o ther s and concentrated more on the socio-politi­ cal aspects of his work. Accordin g to Engels, "Morgan in his own way had discovered afresh in America the materialis t conception of history dis­ covered by Marx forty years ago ." And he be­ lieved that Morgan's anthropological discoveries had "the s ame importance for anthropology as Darwin's theory of evolu tion has for biology and Marx's theory of surplus of value for political econ-




omy ." B asing himself on Morgan , Engels contrasted the communal nature of primitive socie ty with the exploitative relationships that su cceeded it. He in­ quired into the nature of the family and particu­ larly the changing role of women and went on to account for the rise of the s tate as the ins trument of an exploiting class. In brief, Engels' views on the development of the family can be ou tlined as follows. There were three principal forms of marriage which roughly corresponded to the three principal stages of human development : for the period of savagery, group marriage ; for barb arism, pairing marriage ; for civilization, monogamy supple­ mented by adultery and prostitu tion . Relying on Morgan's reconstru ction of the primitive form s of family from systems of consanguinity, he postu­ lated a situation in which unre stricted sexual freedom existed inside the tribe. This was then superseded by the consanguine family in which m arriage groups were separated according to gen­ eration . This then gave rise to the punaluan family, in which , following the prohibition of in­ tercourse between brothers and sisters , there was common possession of husbands and wives wi thin a family circle , from which, however, the brothers of the wives ( and the sisters of the husbands ) were excluded. It was this family structure that

His tory


formed the basis of the gens-a firm circle of blood relations in the female line among whom marriage was prohibited . Within the gens, as the prohibition of m arriage with blood relation s grew ever more exclu sive , group marriage gave rise to pairing marriage, withou t, however, destroying the supremacy of women in the communistic household, or the high respect accorded to them as the only recognizable parents For "the communistic household, in which most or all of the women belonged to one and the same Gens , while the men come from various Gentes, is the material foundation of that supremacy of the women which was general in primitive times." With the advent of barbarism, charac terized by the spread of agriculture and the domestication of animals, the position of the man became more im­ portant. Whereas previously, as the provider of food, he had owned only his hun ting weapons, now in the same capacity he owned cattle and (later ) slaves. And since inheritance was in the female line, he found his own children disin­ herited . Thus the male line of des cent and the paternal law of inheritance began to prevail . In a striking passag e Engels wrote : "The overthrow of mother right was the world his torical defeat of the female sex ." With the establishment of the patriar-





1 C H




chal family, the way was open for the establish­ ment of monogamy, which made the man supreme in the family and enabled him to propagate heirs to his wealth that were indisputably his own . Looking to the future , Engels declared : Full freedom of marriage can therefore only be generally e stablished when the abolition of cap­ italist production and of the property relations created by it has removed all the accompanying economic considerations which still exert such a powerful influence on the choice of a marriage partner . . . . What we can now conj ecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist pro­ duction is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear. But what will there be new ? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up : a genera­ tion of men who never in their live s have known what it is to buy a woman's surrender with money or any other social instrument of power ; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any o ther consideration than real love . Moving from the family, Engels discussed a dis­ covery of Morgan that was "at least as important as his reconstruction of the primitive family"-that is, that the gens was an institution common to all

His tory


barbarians until their entry into civilization and even afterward . The gens consisted of all persons who , in punaluan marriage , form the descendants of a particular ancestral mother. No member was permitted to marry within the gens and since descent was in the female line only the offspring of daughters remained within the gens, whereas offspring of the sons belonged to the gentes of their mother. Its leaders were chosen and dismis­ sible by all the members , and property remained within the gens , whose members owed one an­ other help and protection. Engels was concerned to show that the gens was also at the origin of Greek society and he demon­ strated how its destruction entailed the origin of the state , an institution which needed a territorial basis, a public force distinct from the people , and the power to raise t axes. Ancient Athens was a prime example of how "the state developed, how the organs of the constitution based on the Gens were partly transformed in this development , partly pushed aside b y the introduction of new organs, and last superseded entirely by real state authorities." Progressive division of labor and the s ale and purch ase of land meant an increasing drive toward government based on territory rather than kinship . "The growing money economy pene­ trated like a corrosive acid into the old traditional







life of the rural communities founded on natural economy . The constitution based on the Gens is ab solutely irreconcilable with money economy ; the ruin of the Attic small farmers coincided with the loosening of the old bonds of the Gens which embraced and protected them . The debtor's bond and the lien on property respected neither Gens nor phratry." Engels traced the same proces s in ancient Rome and then among the Germans, ascribing their superiority over the later Rom an Empire to their gens-based constitution and the qualities th at this encouraged. Engels' book was strikingly original in drawing the attention of socialists to the possibility th at sexual and production relations had in some re­ spects been superior in primitive society. More specifically , the book constituted a substantial con­ tribu tion to the study of the emancipation of women, considerably aided by Bebel's continu a­ tion of these themes in his popular Women under Socialism . It suffered, however, from its depen­ dence on Morgan , whose Darwinis t evolution ary perspective led him to posit a much too general scheme of evolution , particularly considering his almost total disregard for Asia and Afric a. Given also that Morgan's ideas on primitive sexual prom­ iscuity, group marriage, and the chronological pri­ ority of the matrilinear over the patrilinear gens



are extremely dubious, i t is not surprising th at the section on the family is the weakest part of Engels' book. More curious is his stric t dichotomy be­ tween the production of the species on the one hand and the produc tion of the means of existence on the o ther. This is exemplified in his view that monogamy was "the first form of family to be based not on natural but on economic conditions" and in his contrast between n atural selection in savage and barb aric society with new social forces that only emerged later, all of which seem to posit a most un-Marxist division between the economic and the social. Under the influence of his historical and anthro­ pological studies, Engels was more willing than Marx to be specific about fu ture communist so­ ciety. His approach was ch aracterized by his en­ thusiasm for the transforming power of industry and for evolutionary theories ; there is less emph a­ sis on the subj ective elements of class struggle and consciousnes s . This tendency is evident in Engels' well-known statement that in future communist society "the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things," or, again , in the view that communist society will be able to con­ sign the whole state machinery "into the museum of antiquities , next to the spinning wheel and the bronze axe ." But it is in his article "On Au thority"







that this view reaches its peak . Here he described the discipline necessary in communist society by using the model of a fac tory : . . . the au tomatic machinery of a big factory is much more despotic than the small capitalists who employ workers ever have b een . At least with regard to the hours of work one may write up on the portals of these fac tories : Lasciate ogni autonomia, voi che entrate ! [Abandon all autonomy, ye who enter here ! ] If man , by dint of his knowledge and inventive genius , has sub­ dued the forces of nature , the latter avenge themselves upon him by subj ecting him , insofar as he employs them , to a veritable despotism in­ dependent of all social organisation . Wanting to abolish authority in large scale industry is tanta­ mount to wanting to abolish industry itself, to destroy the power loom in order to return to the spinning wheel. . . . a revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is. Engels seemed to believe that in post-revolu­ tion ary society the capitalist organization of indus­ try was merely to be run by the workers in a more effective way rather than being radically restruc­ tured through a process of social emancipation . Rationality, planning, and the division of labor would remain , and the productive process would



still be geared quantitatively to m aximum output as its overriding goal . Engels was also consider­ ably influenced by Darwin , and it is significant that his best-known pronouncement on the state in communist society-"it is not abolished, it withers away"-embodied a metaphor drawn from biol­ ogy. Even his famou s statement that the socializa­ tion of the means of production would constitute "humanity's leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom" minimized the amount of neces sity implicit in any real struggle for freedom. Toward the end of his life , Engels foun d himself obliged to give an account of the basic principles of historical materialism ; indeed the very phrase originates with him . With it s growin g popularity , the theory needed a clearer formulation than had hitherto been available . Marx and Engels had elaborated at length in The German Ideo logy ( 1 84 5 ) the position that "the nature of individu als depends on the m aterial conditions determining their production ." But The German Ideology re­ mained unpublished, and the statement by M arx in the preface to his Critique of Politica l Economy ( 1 859 ) that "the mode of production in m aterial life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life ," was liable to misinterpret ation . During the

1 880s several






young Germ an historians had published pieces of research based on what they conceived to be the economic determinism of Marx. The crudity of their approach had laid them open to justified at­ tack by non-Marxist historians. They then turned to Engels to ask for an authoritative s tatement on the determining factors in history . In his replies Engels' main point was to empha­ size the mutual interaction of factors-always on the b asis of the overriding importance of the eco­ nomic . ( The notion of the reciprocal interaction of various elements is prominent in Engels' discus­ sion of chemistry in the Dialectics of Nature , and he seems to have transferred it rather cavalierly from the natural sciences to the domain of history. ) He was willing to admit that elements of the superstruc ture -ideologies, for example , or legal arrangements-did have a relative and circum­ scribed independence since they possessed struc­ ture s and laws peculiar to themselves which could influence the basis and indeed , in extreme in­ stances, could become temporarily the overall de­ termining factor. Engels also admitted that "Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it." According to him , this was because "we had to emphasise the



main principle, vis-a-vis our adversaries , who de­ nied it, and we had not always the time , the place , or the opportunity to allow the other elements in­ volved in interaction to come into their right." Summarizing his views, Engels declared : According to the materialist concept of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life . More than this neither Marx nor I have ever as­ serted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determin­ ing one , he transform s that proposition into a meaningle ss, abstract , senseless phrase. The eco­ nomic situ ation is the basis, but the various ele­ ments of the superstru cture -political forms of the class struggle and its result s , to wit : constitu­ tions established by the victorious class after a successful battle , e tc . , juridical forms, and then even the reflexes of all these actual struggles in the brains of the participants, political , j uristic , philosophical theories, religious views and their further development in the systems of dogmas­ also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggles and in many cases pre­ ponderate in determining their form . There is an interaction of all these elements in which , amid all the endless host of accidents ( that is, things and events, whose inner connection is so remote






or so impossible of proof that we can regard it as nonexis tent , as negligible ) , the economic move­ ment finally asserts itself as necessary. Some commentators have claimed that these statements of Engels constituted some sort of revi­ sion of the basic principles of Marxism . Indeed, B ern stein called on the authority of Engels to but­ tress his overtly revisionist views . No doubt Eng­ els' pronouncements did run contrary to certain vulgarizations of Marxism , but not to Marx him­ self, who was not m uch given to general theoreti­ cal pronouncements on his toric al materialism ­ except, perhaps , in the preface to the Critique of

Political Economy. I t is nevertheless true to say that Engels' statements did represent a somewhat different and m ore j ejune approach by attempting to isolate the "economic factor" and oppose it to o ther factors in a way that robbed it of the social and historical content that it tended to have in Marx.


111 Engels' e arly political views changed consid­ erably as he progressed from his Pietist b ack­ ground through Young Hegelian idealism to communism. Brought up in the industrial towns of the Ruhr , he was well acquainted with the social problems caused by early in­ dustrialization . But his clo se contact with the Young Hegelians and the fact that he was conver�ed to communism by Moses Hess meant that his revolution ary ideas still con­ tained a large mixture of ide alism and Feuer­ bachian hum anism . His move to England meant a move from the philosophic al specu­ lation of Germany to a closer study of the






reality of social and political conditions . Engels was impressed by Chartism and by the Owenites. He wrote an appreciative essay on C arlyle's Past and Present and the "Ou tlines of a Critique of Political Economy ," which Marx much later still recognized as a "ske tch of genius ." Toward the end of I 843 Engels formulated his notion of communism as follows : Thus the three large civilised countries of Eu­ rope -England , France , and Germany-have all come to the conclusion that a thoroughgoing rev­ olution of social rel ationships on the b asis of a community of property has now become an ur­ gent and unavoidable necessity. This result is all the more impres sive as e ach of the three above­ mentioned nations has come to it independently from the o thers ; there c an be no stronger proof available than this that Communism is not merely the consequence of a particular situation of the English or any other nation but a necessary consequence which must inevitably be drawn from pre-suppositions that are given in the gen­ eral conditions of modern civilisation. It i s striking that Engels, even after his close contact with the Manchester working class as evi­ denced in his Condition of the Working Class , could still say that "Communism stands, in princi­ ple , above the breach between the bourgeoisie



and the prole tariat . . . . Communism is a question of humanity and not of the workers alone ." Thu s for Engels even as late as 1 845 revolu tion meant the victory of principles in some way immanent in the historical process over the irrational and chaotic present. If society were not rationally ordered , then the ever-increasing contradictions in it would bring about disasters and catastrophes that would force a total upheav al . Communism was in some way above class and could appeal on rational grounds to all individuals with the capac­ ity for insight into the social process. The vocation of the communist thinker was to make these ra­ tional grounds plain to all in the hope of forward­ ing the cause of communism and avoiding a social catastrophe. It was his collaboration with Marx in 1 84 5 particularly i n The German Ideology that en­ abled Engels to give these rather idealistic politi­ -

cal principles a much sh arper focu s in socio­ economic reality. The years 1 846-1 849 were politically the most active years of Engels' life . After clarifying their ideas in The German Ideol­ ogy, Marx and Engels se t to work to implant these ideas in the Germ an artisan movement. Engels a gitated among the German workers in Paris and Bru ssels ; he acted as chief negotiator with the leaders of the Communist League in London ; he








was Marx's right-hand man on the staff of Neue Rheinische Zeitung ; and he finished the revolu­ tionary year of 1 848 as an active participant in the B aden campaign. Theoretic ally, Engels made two m ain contributions at this time : the first was the formulation of a basic communis t outlook, chiefly in the Principles of Communism ( 1 847 ) , which formed the basis for the Communis t Manifesto , and the second was his articles for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung . The Principles of Communism was a summary of Engels' work over the previous years in The Condition of the Working Class , in his numerous political articles , and in The German Ideology. Principles of Communism was clear, expository, and didactic , cast in the form of a catechism of twenty-five questions. Communism was "the doc­ trine of the conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat." The proletariat was that group which ( unlike previous slave s , serfs , or artisans ) got its livelihood solely by means of selling its labor. The industrial revolution had so mechanize d produc­ tion that basically only two classes remained in society : the capitalists and the proletariat, who re­ ceive d no more th an a subsistence wage . Un­ bridled competition had led to crises in the economy, anarchical production , the growth of the proletariat, and the depression of wages-a state



of affairs only to be overcome by the imposition of a fixed plan by the whole of the society in the interests of all. This would involve the abolition of private ownership - an obj ective which was the linchpin of com i;n unism. Such a revolution would have to be intern ational , prob ably violent, and in­ volve the introduction of a democratic constitution . Engels sketched out the kind of program a victor­ ious proletariat would introduce and wen t on to give an outline of communist society. A vast in­ cre ase in productivity would mean sufficient goods for all and the pos sibility of abolishing the division of l abor. There would be no antagonism between town and country. Communism would also in­ volve abolishing the dependency of wives on hus­ b ands and children on parents, elimin ating n a­ tion al boundaries , and rendering religion ob solete . He finished with a summ ary of the differences be­ tween communists and other socialists and an ac­ count of the attitudes of communists to contempo­ rary political parties . The emphasis i n Engels' document lay on the historically necessary consequences of the indus­ trial revolution. It was inferior in style to The Communist Manifesto and lacked the preoccupa­ tion with political consciousness and class s truc­ ture that a closer acquaintance with French social­ ism and Hegelian dialectics had given to Marx.





Above all, it lacked the impre ssive power of syn­ thesis in overall design tha t made The Communist Manifesto so s triking. Nevertheless, Principles of

Communism rem ains important as the first funda­ mental statement of communist policy. At the end of Principles of Communism Engels had said th at, as far as Germany was concerned, "it is in the in terests of the Communists to help bring the bourgeoisie to power as soon as possible in order to overthrow them again." To achieve this

aim , Marx and Engels put their main e ffort during the revolutionary years of 1 848-1849 into the creation and running of a newspaper that would support a "united front" of all democra tic forces . Its program was universal suffrage , direct elec­ tions , the abolition of all feudal dues and charges, the establishment of a s tate banking sys tem , and the admission of state responsibility for employ­ ment. Favoring the cause of the emancipation of the bourgeoisie meant that the paper did not, at least initially, deal with the situation or interests of the working class as such. Engels dealt principally with foreign policy, the main point of which was a revolutionary war against Russia on the model of the French Revolution's offensive against feudal Germany after 1 789. Such a war, he considered, would crush the most conservative regime in



Europe, restore Polish independence, and inter­ nally lead to the creation of a unitary state in Ger­ many. On his return to Cologne in early 1 849 after three months' exile Engels saw his hopes of revolu­ tion in England dashed but was still op timistic about Hungary and France . He turned his atten­ tion particularly to the course of the revolution in the Austro-Hungarian empire and came to the un­ Marxist view that victory of the Germans and Hungarians over "minor" or "history-less" Slav na­ tions wa s equivalent to the victory of civilization over barbarism . Support for the German bourgeoi­ sie meant support for the Polish and Hungarian nobility that were aligned with them , and this led Engels to write , with a strain of German chauvin­ ism th at never quite deserted him : "Among all the nations of Au stria there are only three that have had any active impact on history and which are still capable of life -the Germans, the Poles and the Magyars. Therefore they are now revolution­ ary. All other large and small races and peoples have the immediate mission of going under in the world-revolutionary storm. Therefore they are at present counter-revolutionary." That this was not an isolated view of Engels is shown by his approval of the American annexation of Californian gold mine s belonging to Mexico .








This piece of imperialism was j ustified by Engels on the grounds that the "energetic Yankees" were more capable than "lazy Mexicans" of developing the productive potential of the Pacific seaboard. Only at the very end of the revolutionary move­ ment, in April 1 849, did Marx and Engels abandon their support for the bourgeoisie and advocate the cre ation of a separate workers' party. For eighteen months after the failure of the revolution they con­ tinued to be active in the Communist League and maintained their op timism over the imminence of a revolutionary revival. It then became clear to them , however, that this would have to wait on a fresh economic crisis . In a series of articles written in 1 85 1 , entitled Revolution and Counter-Revolu­

tion in Germany in 1 84 8 , Engels summed up the lessons learne d from the recent German revolu­ tion . He gave a very clear view of the underdevel­ oped nature of the German economy, of the im­ portance of land tenure , and of the historical reasons for the lack of a really solid bourgeois class . The 1 850s and 1 860s were the ye ars of lowest ebb in Engels' political activities. He had with­ drawn from the febrile squabble s of refugee poli­ tics in England. Conservative re action had estab­ lished itself firmly on the continent of Europe with little or no organized opposition . Engels therefore



confined himself to writing articles, most of which had only an indirectly political nature . This situa­ tion began to ch ange in the mid-1 86os with the formation of the First International, a loose con­ federation of parties, trade unions, and indivi­ duals, designed to promote working-class interests on an intern ational scale . However, he was active in the International only during the two years prior to its disintegration in 1 872. During 1 8 64 to I 870 Marx in London had little help from Engels in Manchester, who was, in any case , skeptical about the efficacy of the International at its outset. Engels j oined as a member but did not organize any branch . In I 870 , on his moving to London , Engels was elected to a seat on the general council and devoted most of his time during the ensuing two years to its activitie s . He was chosen to be corresponding secre tary for Spain and Italy and was active in opposing the spread of Bakunin's ideas . However, Engels got on much less well than Marx did with the English trade unionists, who disliked his "Prussian" attitude , and this hampered his effectiveness. Durin g the last twenty years of his life Engels came into his own as a political leader. By the late 87os the various European socialist parties were recovering strongly from the setbacks of the Com­ mune and the dissolution of the International. I


R I E D R 1 C




Engels was their natural mentor and point of liaison-"the leader of the orchestra ," a s he called himself, fulfilling the role of the international so­ cialist bureau which wa s only cre ated after his death . By temperament and provenance , the so­ cialist party to which Engels felt himself closest was the German Social Democratic Party ( SPD ) , over which he exercised a continuous , and a t times almost ch auvinistic , guardianship . Liebknecht , Behel , Bernstein , Kautsky-all had sat at his feet and with all he kept up a constant correspondence . The party had been formed at the Gotha Con­ gres s of 1 875 by a fusion of the followers of Las­ s alle with those of Marx's disciples Liebknecht and Behel . Engels and Marx considered that far too many concessions had been granted to the Lassal­ leans but became more reconciled to the party le adership as Marxian theory became increasingly influential in its ranks. This proces s culmin ated in the Erfurt Congress of 1 89 1 . Just prior to the Con­ gress, Engels published the criticisms of Lassalle which Marx had embodied in his Critique of the Gotha Programme , in order to "se ttle accounts be­ tween Marx and Lassalle . " He commented exten­ sively on the draft for the program drawn up by Liebknecht, Kautsky, and Bernstein and s aw his ideas largely accepted . There w a s between Engels a n d the SPD leader-



ship the inevitable tension of the theoretician in exile and the practical politicans in the field. But they shared an optimism concerning the inevitable growth and imminent vic tory of their party. Dur­ ing the 1 870s, Engels accepted a b asic division of labor be tween Marx and himself; Marx was to devote himself to finishing his magnum opus,

Capita l, while Engels was to champion and de­ fend in print their views against all opponents. In this he was eminently successful : Anti-Diihring was very popular and the chapters from it re­ printed as Socialism, Utopian and Scientifi.c were translated into more language s than any other socialist work including The Communist Mani­ festo. Engels was particularly vigilant in opposing the intrusion of tendencies attempting to "expunge the class struggle from the movement" and "openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must be freed from above by philanthropic big bourgeois and petty bourgeois." Although Bismarck's anti-socialist leg­ islation forced the SPD into semi-clandestinity throughout the l 8 8os, Engels produced a constant stre am of articles for the party's banned publica­ tions . In the event, this period of persecution radicalized the party and assisted the establish­ ment of Marxism ( as interpreted by Engels ) as its




official policy. It also strengthened its following : votes increased s �eadily from 493 ,000 with 1 2 seats in the Reichstag in 1 8 77 to almost 2 million votes and 44 seats by 1 89 3 . Encouraged by this progres s , Engels predicted i n 1 89 1 that the p arty would come to power in 1 898. This victory was mathe­ matic ally calcul able and he even had a graph to prove it. He was particularly impressed by the growth of socialist thought in the army. "Even today," he wrote in 1 892, "one soldier in five is a socialist and within a few years there will be one in three. By the end of the century the ranks of the army-once the stronghold of Prussianism in Germany-will be filled with socialists. Nothing can withstand the fateful march of events." This belief in the march of events and the wide­ spre ad view in the party that Marxism had shown the inevitability of the growth and vic tory of pro­ letarian power led to an emphasis on peaceful rather than revolutionary attitudes which Engels did much to foster. The notion of rev.olution merged with that of the collapse of capitalism- a world that w a s n o t to b e overthrown but in­ herited . But although for the p arty leaders the renunciation of violence tended to become abso­ lute and thus led them to put all their trust either in gaining a parliamentary maj ority ( B ernstein ) or in the automatic collapse of capitalism ( B ehel ) ,



for Engels this abstinence remained much more of a tactic . The difference is well illustrated by the introduction that Engels wrote in r 895 to a new edition of Marx's I 850 pamphlet The Class Strug­ gles in France . As Engels died a few months after its publication , this introduction wa s viewed by many as his political tes tament . Berns tein in par­ ticular laid great emphasis on it as supporting his own revisionist doctrine of "peaceful transition to socialism ." Engels had indeed declared in his article that "the mode of struggle of 1 848 is obso­ lete in every respect." Commenting on the views that he and Marx had held in the 1 84os, Engels admitted that "history has not merely dispelled the erroneou s notions we then held ; it has also com­ pletely transformed the conditions under which the proletariat has to fight." The franchise had been "transformed from a means of deception, which it was before , into an instrument of emanci­ pation ." The corollary of this was that "in Latin countries, also, it is being realised more and more that the old tactics must be revised. Everywhere the German example of u tilising the suffrage , of winning all posts accessible to u s , has been imi­ tate d ; everywhere the unprepared launching of an attack has been relegated to the background . . . . Slow propaganda work and parliamentary activity are recognised . . . as the immediate tasks of the




Party." Engels laid gre at stress on the increasing mass membership of the SPD and on the "firm muscle s and rosy cheeks" that it was gaining under legal conditions : "to keep this growth going with­ out in terruption until it of itself gets beyond the control of the prevailing governmental system , not to fritter away this daily incre asing shock force in vanguard skirmishes but to keep it intact until the decisive day, that is our main task." Bernstein ­ and the maj ority of his fellow Marxists agreed with him -declared that Engels "more cle arly than ever before extolled universal suffrage and parliamentary activity as the means of working­ class em ancipation and rej ected the idea of the conquest of political power through revolutionary upheaval ." Only recently has it become clear that the more "revolutionary" passages in Engels' article were cut out by the cautious Berlin leadership and that he only allowed it to be published in this form under protest. "I am of the opinion," he wrote, "th at you gain nothing by pre aching a complete abstinence from violence . No one believes it and

no party in any country goes as far as to give up the right to withstand illegality arms in hand . " Nevertheless, although Engels did n o t revise his opinion of the relationship between legality and revolution as radically as some have claimed, his



attitude to SPD politics was seriously miscon­ ceived on several counts. First, althou gh having the revolutionary aims of the party more clearly in mind than did his colleagues inside Germany , he did posit an almost unbridgeable gap between present policies and revolution ary ends-a gap ex­ emplified by the dichotomy into these two sepa­ rate halves ( theoretical and practical ) of the Erfurt program of r 89 r , of which he was one of the direct architects. Second , Engels h ad too schem atic a view of the bourgeoisie . For him , the immediate task of the SPD was to organize itself so that it could put pressure on the bourgeoisie to rem ain true to their own liberal principles . For the political freedom thu s acquired could only help the development of the proletariat. But he over­ estimated the bourgeoisie's eagerness for reform and took little account of their readiness for com­ promise with the ruling powers. Nor was Engels in close touch with attitudes of the rank and file of his own party, of which a high proportion of the members were petty bourgeois-at least in their o utlook. He did not see that the party organiza­ tion, the trade union establishment , and indeed many ordinary party members would have too much to lose in any fu ture revolutionary upheaval . The industrial workers-that is, proletarians in the strict sense-were a small minority. The fact that




Engels's knowledge of the SPD was limited to its leaders led him to neglect the importance of eco­ nomic struggle : his scorn for British trade unions and his dismissal of the idea of a general strike led him to pose a s tark alternative of legal activities or b arricades and to have little interest in decentral­ ize d , grass-roots activities . B u t Engels b y no means confined his attention to Germany, and his correspondence with leading European socialists demonstrates how generally flexible and well informed he was as a political strategist. He was a close friend of Viktor Adler, to whom he gave continual support and advice in guiding and founding the Austrian Social Demo­ cratic Workers Party. In France , he gave continu­ ous assistance , financial included, to Jules Guesde and Lafargue in their effort to create a viable Marxist party, though here his efforts were less successful, as the socialist movement was divided into several factions . In Italy, Engels m aintained a close correspondence with Antonio Labriola , Italy's most distinguished Marxist thinker, and with Filippo Turati , founder of the Italian Work­ ers Party. But it was Britain , naturally, that claimed , after Germ any, Engels's main attention . During the 1 850s and 1 860s his work at Ermen and Engels prevented him from taking part in political dem-



onstra tions or giving active support to the declin­ ing Chartist movement. He was, in any c ase , dis­ gusted at the tendency of Chartist leaders to support alliances wi th the Liberals and concluded that "the English proletaria t is becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the pos­ session of a bourgeois aris tocracy and a bourgeois proletariat as well a s a bourgeoisie . For a nation which exploits the whole world this is, of course, to a certain extent , justified." With the advent of the International , Engels switched more of his at­ tention to the trade unions, but in I 879 he was forced to state that "there is no point in denying that, at the moment, no genuine Labour move­ ment in the Continental sense exists in England." There was a re-emergence of working-class unrest in the mid-r 88os, but Engels remained critical both of H . M . Hyndman's Social Democratic Fed­ eration with its curious mixture of historical mate­ rialism , class struggle , and jingoistic imperialism and of the Socialist League of Belfort B ax and William Morris . "The workers,'' he wrote "gaily share the feast of England's monopoly of the world m arket and colonies . . . a really general workers' movement will come into existence here only when the workers feel that England's world monopoly i s broken."




Engels' influence among English socialists was somewhat diminished by his support for Edward Aveling, who had, according to George Bernard Shaw, "ab solutely no conscience about money or women." Aveling and Ele anor Marx, however, a chieved a considerable amount in organizing unions of unskilled laborers in the East End and supporting such manifestations of working-class unrest as the Dock Strike of 1 8 89. This activity c aught Engels' imagination and he declared that "the revival of the East End of London remains one of the greatest and most fruitful facts of this

fin de siecle and proud I am to have lived to see it." However, the emergence of a strong workers' party in England was delayed until after his death - and then it developed along lines alien to his thought. After the end of the Intern ation al, Engels began , for the first time , to be seriously interested in the possibilities of revolution in Ru ssia. He had always had an antipathy to the Slavs in general, and Ru ssia had been , for him , nothing more th an the bulwark of European re action . Nor had his hopes of Russia been improved by contact with such figures as B akunin . By the mid-1 87os, how­ ever, his mastery of the language and his contacts with Russian emigres in London encouraged him to express an optimistic opinion of Russia's future



in his controversy with the Populist leader Peter Tkachev. In common with most other Populists, Tkachev believed th at a sufficien tly determined minority could , by terrorist conspiracy, overthrow the Czarist regime and in troduce a sociali sm based on the omnipresent peasant commune , thus by­ passing any capitalist stage of developmen t . Eng­ els was more inclined to believe in the necessity of a thoroughgoing bourgeois revolution in Russia as the next stage and denied any independent vi­ tality to the peasant commune . "I t is clear," he wrote , "that communal ownership in Russia is long past its flouri shing period and to all appearances is moving towards its dissolution. Nevertheless, the possibility undeniably exists of tran sforming this social form into a higher one . . . . This, however, c an happen only if, before the complete break-up of communal ownership , a proletarian revolution is successfully carried out in Western Europe ." It is ironic that just at the momen t when certain Populists -the young Georgi Plekhanov, for example -were movin g towards Marxism Engels became more sympathetic to Populism . Marx him­ self compared the Russian Marxist emigres in Geneva unfavorably with the Populist activists in­ side Russia and in an ambivalen t reply to Ple­ khanov's colleague Vera S assoulitch had encour­ aged the Populists' hopes-a view rei terated in his




1 882 preface to the second Russian edition of The Communist Manifesto . A few years later, Engels wrote to the same lady in a similar vein, giving a cool reception t o Plekhanov's anti-Populist work Our Differences. The Russians , he declared, were approaching their 1 789. "The revolution must break out there in a limited period of time ; it m ay break out any day. In these circumstances the country is like a charged mine which only needs a match to be applied to it. This is one of the exceptional cases where it is possible for a handful of people to make a revolution ." Engels overestimated the strength of the Popu­ lists and considered that the criticisms by Ple­ khanov and his friends only served to weaken the revolution ary opposition . By 1 894, however, he once again came down strongly on the side of the Marxists , by admitting the demise of the commune as a viable institution and thus denying any possi­ bility of uniquenes s to Russia's future develop­ ment . And this view formed the basts of Lenin's major work, The Development of Capitalism in R u ssia , written two years later.


IV Engels' most distinctive contribution to Marx­ ism was his systematization of a would-be scientific Marxist "philosophy." This he did in three main works. The first and most imme­ diately influential was Anti-Dilhring ( 1 8771 878 ) , in which Engels sough t to refute the views of Eugen Di.ihring, a Berlin socialist who had recently attacked Marx's ideas as not being straightforwardly materialist and who was becoming incre asingly influential among many of Marx's German disciples . The second was an essay entitled Ludwig Feuerbach and

the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy ( 1 888 ) , which Engels described as "a short






coherent account of our relation to the Hegelian philosophy, of how we proceeded, as well as of how we separated , from it." The third was a work published only after Engels' death, though written mainly in the mid- 1 87os, entitled Dialectics of Na­ ture, in which Engels attempted to work out a fundamental Marxist philosophy based on the idea that na ture itself moved dialectically . Two general factors influenced Engels' devel­ opment of a general world outlook strongly orien­ tated toward science . The more widespread the socialist movement became, the more need there was of a cle ar philosophical statement to guide the party members-p articularly as there were al­ ready rival systems in the field. And , quite natu­ rally, the systematic orientation provided by Eng­ els was strongly influenced by the growing preoccupation with scientific methodology in En­ gland and Germany and the growing prestige of natural science among large sections of society­ not least the members of the SPD . Engels devoted a considerable portion of his time during the last two decades of his life to the study of n atural science . After re tiring from business in 1 870, he wrote, "I went through as complete as possible a 'moulting,' as Herr Liebig calls it, in mathem atics and the natural sciences, and spent the best part of eight years on it." What struck Engels as of



particular importance were the discovery of the transformation of energy , the discovery of the cell as th e basic unit of biologic al change , and the evolu tionary theory of Darwin . These interests in­ evitably influenced Engels' presentation of his "world view" and m ade him emph asize a materi­ alist conception of na ture rather than of history . In particular, the work of Darwin made a profound impression on him and , as a result, he came in for considerable criticism from fellow Marxists for applying to society concept s drawn from biology. A corollary was that some of Engels' writings were dire cted just as much at scientists as at educated members of the working class ; indeed he believed that "the more ru thlessly and disinterestedly sci­ ence proceeds the more it finds itself in harmony wi th the interests and aspira tions of the workers ." Engels was also led, p aradoxically , to adopt some of the positions of his o pponents , p articu­ larly in his Anti-Duhring . ( The Dialectics of Na­

ture was also originally conceived of as an "Anti­ Biichner" -Ludwig Buchner being at the time a very influential propagandist of the vulgar ma­ terialism th at wished to reduce everything to the movement of matter. ) In spite of his contempt for Diihring's "system creating," Engels nevertheless s aid in his preface that "the polemic was trans­ formed into a more or less connected exposition of




the dialectical method and of the Communist world outlook ." Given the increasing popularity in socialist circles of the n aively materialist evolu­ tionary concepts propounded by such thinkers as Diihring, Buchner, Karl Vogt, and Ernst Haeckel, Engels was tempted to outbid them "in order to prevent a new occasion for sectarian divisions and confusion from developing within the Party" and thus ended by merely offering a "superior" form of materialist monism . The two most striking themes of Anti-D ii.hring were m aterialism and dialectics, and. particularly the emphasis on matter- a concept not hitherto employed by Marx and Engel s . In Anti-D ii.hring Engels referred to "the materi ality of all existence" and said that "both matter and its mode of exis­ tence , motion , are uncreatable and . . . therefore their own final cause ." At the same time, however, Engels claimed that his materialism differed from the "simple me taphysical and exclusively mechan­ ical materialism of the eighteenth century . . . in opposition to this conception modern materialism embraces the m ore recent advances in natural sci­ ence . " The first of the three sections of Anti­

D ii.hring is the one that is of philosophical interest ( the o ther two deal with economics and s ocial­ ism ) . Here Engels set himself to apply "conscious dialectics" to the "m aterialist conception of nature



and history." He was convince d that "in nature, amid the welter of innumerable changes, the same dialectical l aws of mo tion force their way through a s those which in history govern the apparent fortuitou sness of events." Engels began by con­ trasting metaphysical views -which looked on obj ects and ideas as static and separate -with dialectics which emphasized ch ange and connec­ tion . Hegel , as the great protagonist of dialectical though t, had the great merit of presenting "for the first time the whole world, n atural , historical , intel­ lectual, as a process, i . e . , as in constant motion , change, transformation , development . " But Hegel was an idealist, and modern materialism , by con­ trast, said Engels, although essentially dialectical, no longer needs any philosophy standing above the o ther sciences . As soon as e ach special sci­ ence is impelled to make clear its position in the great totality of things and of our knowledge of things, a special science dealing with this totality is superfluous. That which still survives, inde­ pendently, of all earlier philosophy is the science of thought and its l aws-formal logic and dia­ lectics. Everything else is subsumed in the posi­ tive science of nature an d history. Engels then continu ed, in the process of criticiz­ ing Diihring, to develop his own ideas. Man was a product of nature , and man's consciousness, a s a




product of his brain, was also a produc,t of nature which was merely reflected in men's minds. Knowledge was essentially limited, for "each men­ tal image of the world's system is and remains in actual fact limited, obj ectively by the historical conditions and subj ectively by the physical and mental constitution of its originator." Basing his reasoning on the example of mathematics , Engels showed that all knowledge was empirical and had to begin with the actual world. In subsequent chapters he declared that the unity of the world consisted in its ma teriality and attempted to show that sp ace and time were infinite . He supported the Kantian notion of the origin of celestial bodies from rotating nebular masses and investigated the concepts of motion and m atter as basic to the understanding of physics and chemistry. The ori­ gin of life was to be accounted for on Darwinian principles. Engels then proceeded to deny the existence of any "e ternal truths" either in science, history, or ethics . The problem of freedom he viewed essen­ tially along Hegelian lines of necessity's being blind only as long as it was not understood : free­ dom was the recognition of necessity. Engels was, however,





that :

"How young the whole of human history still is, and how ridiculous it would be to attemp t to



ascribe any absolute validity to our pre sent views , is evident from the simple fact that all past history can be characterised as the history of the epoch from the practical discovery of the transform ation of mechanical motion into heat up to that of the transformation of heat into mechanical motion." He finished the section with a brief description of the laws of the dialectic . In the Dialectics of Nature , the discussion of the links of natural science with dialectics i s much ex­ panded. The surviving manuscripts begin with a look at the development of modern science and then meditate on the origins of the solar system and foresee a time when the declining warm th of the sun will no longer suffice to melt the ice thrusting itself forward from the pole s ; when the human race crowding more and more about the equ ator will fin ally no longer find even there enough heat for life ; when gradually even the last trace of organic life will vanish ; and the earth , an extinct frozen globe like the moon, will circle in deepest darkness and in an ever narrower orbit about the equally ex­ tinct sun, and at last fall into it. Other planets will h ave preceded it, others will follow it; in­ stead of the bright warmth of the solar system with its harmonious arrangement of members , only a cold, dead sphere will still pursue its lonely path through univers al space .




This rather bleak prospect is counterbalanced by the certainty that m atter remains eternally the s ame in all its transformations , that none of its attributes can ever be lost, and therefore , also, that with the same iron necessity that it will ex­ terminate on the earth its highest creation, the thinking mind, it must somewhere else and at ano ther time again produce it. After a brief excursus on Victorian spiritualists , Engels described the familiar laws of the dialectic . He then devoted a chapter to the concept of mo­ tion and its basic forms. Motion was "the mode of existence, the inherent attribute , of matter, and comprehends all changes and processes occurring in the universe, from mere change of place right up to thinking." According to Engels , a truly dia­ lectical view demonstrated the twin propositions th at m atter was indestructible and uncreated, an.d that motion had no beginning and no end. In the main body of the work , these ide as were worked out by investigating the latest rese arches in en­ ergy, tidal friction , he at, and electricity. B asic to all these forms of motion was reciprocal interac­ tion : thus n atural science "confirms what Hegel has said , that reciprocal action is the true causa finalis of things . We cannot go b ack further than to knowledge of this reciprocal action for the very



reason that there is no thing behind it to know. If . we know the forms of motion of matter, then we know matter itself, and therewith our knowledge is complete ." Engels here flirted with a view of m atter that had affinities with German romantic philosophy such as that of Schelling and with con­ temporary life-force theories . This involved inve st­ ing matter with what looked like a covert spiritu­ alization . For although Engels talked abou t his views' being "not a philosophy at all any more , but simply a Weltanscha uung which has to establish itself and prove itself in the real science s ," yet he introduced a profoundly teleological element into his thinking by claiming that it lay in the es sence of matter to evolve into thinking beings. Inte gral to Engels' material conception of na­ ture was his epistemology. For Engels , man's knowledge of the external world consisted of "re­ flections" or "more or less abstract pictures of ac­ tual things and processes," and concepts were "merely the conscious reflex of the dialectic al mo­ tion of the real world." Or again : "Dialectics, so­ called obj ective dialectics, prevails throughout nature, and so-called obj ective dialectics , dialecti­ cal thought, is only the reflection of the motion through opposites which assert s itself everywhere · in nature ." At the same time , Engels was f a r from wishing to abandon entirely the doctrine of the







unity of theory and practice : indeed, somewhat paradoxically, the pithiest formulation of this doc­ trine, M arx's Theses on Feuerbach, was first pub­ lished by Engels as an appendix to his own L u d­ wig Feuerbach . Engels' idea of what was involved in the unity of theory and practice , however, was some times rather anemic , as when he summarized it as "experimentation and industry." Central also to Engels' materialism was his , understanding of Hegel . For the later Engels, Hegel was a thinker "of the greatest genius" who stood "in the same relation to consciously dialecti­ cal natural science as the Utopians to modern Communism." There is indeed a certain similarity between the system building of the older Hegel and Engels' tendency to systematize Marxism on a b asis of natural science. But i t could plau sibly be claimed that Hegel had more of a genuine subj ect­ obj ect dialectic than Engels : Hegel, too, believed that there was a dialectic in n ature -but that it was subj ect to the universal mediation of spirit. He thus conserved the subj ective side of the dia­ lectic so lacking in Engels . For Engels, like Marx, "inverted" Hegel by pu tting his idealist philosophy on a mechanistic basis , but the result was not the idea that philosophy could be abolished by being put into practice , which was so characteristic of their thinking in the i 84os. Engels entertained no



notion that philosophy might possess a content to be realized ; for he anticipated a time when philos­ ophy in this sense would be entirely superseded. What Engels aimed at was the construction of a systematic materialism a s all-embracing as Hegel's own system ; and it is scarcely an oversimplifica­ tion to say that this centrally involved the replace­ ment of "spirit" by "m atter" as the Absolute . The exact relationship of the dialectic to this "matter" was not clear. Engels claimed that the dialectical view of the world was indicated by the existence in things of "contradictions"-for ex­ ample , the notion of the square root of minus one was contradictory in itself, in that it was contra­ dictory that a negative quantity should be the square of anything. More specifically, Engels de­ fended Marx for his use of the law of the trans­ formation of quantity into quality by pointing to the example of water which, at a certain tempera­ ture, turned into steam . Or again , Marx' s use of the negation of the negation was illustrated by Engels through the example of the grain of barley which must perish in order to give rise to the plant. However, Engels explained, "by characterising the process as the negation of the negation , Marx does not intend to prove that the process was his­ torically necessary . On the contrary : only after he has proved from history that in fact the process




has partially already occurred and partially must occur .in the future , he in addition characterises it as a process which developed in accordance with a definite dialectical when the search for doned and instead would be "pursued

law." Engels foresaw a time "absolute truth" would be aban­ the a ttainable relative truths through the positive sciences

and the summarising of their results by means of dialectical thought." But this is somewhat to down­ grade the importance of the dialectic , suggesting that it is simply a redescription of facts and the­ ories available without its help. Engels believed that the principal "laws" of the dialectic could be cle arly formulated-and that thi s had first been achieved by Hegel. These, Engels said in Dialec­ tics of Nature , "can be reduced in the main to three : the law of the transform ation of qu antity to quality and vice vers a ; the law of the interpenetra­ tion of opposite s ; the law of the negation of the negation ." It is obvious that only in the vaguest sense could these be called "laws." ( I t may be significan t that they are not given the typic al for­ mulation of laws - that is, "all quantities when sufficiently increased undergo a qualitative change . " ) There is difficulty, for example , in iden­ tifying, in the law of the negation of the negation , what would count as a thesis and antithesis. And Engels was ambivalent as to the heuristic quality



of the l aws : sometimes he gave the impression that dialectical thinking was little more than the realization that there were no hard-and-fast lines of demarcation in nature . Ye t at the s ame time he could talk of the "proofs" of the se laws ( he seems to have meant "examples" ) and describe the dia­ lectic as "a method of arriving at new results" or even of "proving," a s opposed to simply being a very general ( and some would say therefore al­ most superfluous ) categorization of the results of natural science . The story that Einstein , when confronted with the manuscripts of the Dialectics of Nature , in­ sisted that they must at all costs be preserved as a fascin ating resume of all the misconceptions at­ tendant on natural science at the end of the nine­ teenth century, is prob ably apocryphal . But it is difficult to believe th::it Engels' views contain much of lasting value either to science or to philosophy. However, as the b asis for what came to be known as dialectical materialism , they were undoubtedly of immense influence .

Conclusion : Engels and Marx

v To get a satisfactory picture of Engels, it is necessary to clarify as much as possible his re­ lationship with Marx. Much that has been written about Marxism has given the imp res­ , sion that Engels and Marx were a sort of com­ posite personality. Engels himself conveyed this impression by being unduly modest about his own role . "All my life ," he wrote in 1 884, "I have done what I was cut out for-namely to play second fiddle-and I think that I have done quite well in that capacity. And I have been happy to have had such a wonderful first violin as Marx." Ye t it is clear that Engels and Marx were very different in temperament and

Conclusion : Engels and Marx


outlook. Moreover, Engels contributed enor­ mously to Marx's achievement-not only finan­ cially and emoti o nally but also in terms of the genesis and evolution of his ideas . In many respects it would be difficult to find two charac ters more opposed than those of Engels and Marx. Engels' clothes , for example , were al­ ways immaculate : he was invariably trim and scrupulously cle an and was described by Marx's son-in-law Lafargue as "always looking as though ready to go on parade as during his years of volun­ tary service in the Prussian army ." Marx paid much less attention to washing or grooming and was regarded by several of his acquaintances as a bohemian . Again , Engels was as methodical as the proverbial spinster, his study was like a dentist's reception room , and all his books and papers were kept in impecc able order. Marx's books were all over the place , often jumbled up with household articles. Engels' handwriting was neat and clear ; Marx's was notoriously illegible . These differences extended to more fundamen­ tal matters . Marx , though he sometimes regretted it profoundly , was essentially a family man ; en­ gaged when he was only seventeen , he retained a lifelong attachment to his wife , who bore him seven children. By contrast, Engels remained unmarried ; he was a grea t womanizer in his youth,




and even in Manchester he lived a semi-b achelor existence despite his attachment to Mary Burns. This contra st in attitudes to domestic life was the source of the one note of discord in their friend­ ship. Marx's wife disapproved of the relationship with M ary Burns and refused to meet her. When M ary died, Engels complained of Marx's "frosty reception" of the news-though his own self­ centered reaction was nothing to be proud of. He contrasted Marx's attitude with the sympathy of his "philistine" acquaintances and continued, "you found the moment suitable to enforce the superi­ ority of your cold thought processes." Marx apolo­ gized and Engels replied that he was relieve d not to have lost his friend and Mary Burns at the same time. Moreover , Marx's remarks on the death of Lizzie Burns do show him somewh at contemptu­ ous of her illiteracy. That these may not have been isolated instances is suggested by the fact that after Marx's death his daughters destroyed a num­ ber of letters th at might have hurt Engels. Their different attitudes on family matters did , however, enable Engels to render a signal service to Marx by accepting temporary responsibility for the paternity of Marx's illegitimate son Fre derick Demuth. Indeed, Marx's obligations to his friend were innumerable. Apart from affording him the one profound and stable friendship of his life ,

Conclusion : Engels and Marx


with all that implied, Engels assisted him in a very material way. During the late 1 840s Marx had been comp ara­ tively well-off, but soon after settling in London he was virtually destitute . During the last thirty years of his life , he lived off Engels. At first Engels could only arrange relatively small amounts , sent sometimes in stamps or bank note s torn in half and mailed in separate envelopes for security rea­ sons . From the late l 8 6os , however, Engels was able to settle a generous annual income on Marx. In term s of present-day values , Engels subsidized Marx and his family to the extent of over £ 1 00 ,000 . More than that, Engels was always re ady to put aside his own work in favor of Marx's : when Marx got an offer of a j ob as corresponden t for the New York Daily Tribune but felt his English to be in­ adequate , Engels sent him regular articles that he could forward under his own name. When Marx turned t o him for advice on military matters , agrarian economics, the l atest progress in the nat­ ural sciences, or simply th e practical workings of the capitalist system as exemplified in the firm of Ermen and Engels, his friend was always ready to supply the necessary information . Engels also had a decisive influence on Marx's thinking . At a crucial point h e directed M arx's at­ tention toward what was to be his life's work, the





study of economics , and furnished him with some of his basic concepts. For it was the article that Engels contributed to Marx's Deutsch-Franzosische

]ahrbilcher at the end of 1 843-his "Outlines of Critique of Political Economy"-that first aroused Marx's interest in the science of political economy. Fifteen years later Marx s till described this article as "a brilliant critical essay on eco­ a

nomic categories." In fact it sketched out many of the themes that were to become fundamental to Marxism : the factors governing economic growth , the phenomenon of the trade cycle , the contrast of growing wealth on the one side and growing im­ poverishment on the other, the polarization of classes, and the tendency of open competition to give rise to monopoly . In the notebooks that con­ s tituted Marx's famous Economic and Philosophi­ cal Manuscript s of 1 84 4 , the first work he ex­ cerpted in the economics section was this article by Engels. It was largely due to this inspiration offered by Engels that , when he and Marx met in Paris in September of l 844, they found themselves "in complete agreement on question s of theory." The first works setting out the materialist conception of history- the attacks on the Young Hegelians in The Holy Family ( 1 844 ) , and The German Ideology ( 1 845 ) , and The Communist Manifesto-were all

Conclusion : Engels and Marx


j oint produc tions. Engels' influence was consoli­ dated by The Condition of the Working Class . His work, moreover, made pioneering u se of the s tatis­ tical material made available by the Registrar General, factory in spec tors , and parliamen tary enquiries. This foreshadowed the impressive use which Marx made of such sources in the historical sections of Capital. Finally , the immen se contribu­ tion of Engel s in editing Volumes Two and Three of Capital should not be forgotten . This task ab­ sorbed his energies during the last twelve years of his life , and no one but he could have produced these volumes as they exist today. Engels summed up his relation ship to Marx as follows : I cannot deny that both before and during my forty years' partnership with Marx I had a cer­ tain independent share in working out the theory . But Marx was responsible for the leading basic ideas particularly as far as economics and his­ tory were concerned-and he put those ideas in their final classic form . What I achieved-apart from work in a few specialized fields of study­ Marx could have achieved without me. B u t what Marx achieved I could not have achieved. There are two m ain reasons why this again is somewhat too modest. The first ( as previously de­ tailed ) is that Engels did have a decisive influence












on Marx at the beginning of his career. The sec­ ond is that Engels' views always did h ave a slightly different emphasis and this came to the fore particularly after Marx's death , when Engels established an interpretation of "Marxism" some­ what divergent from Marx's own ideas. It has been said that the latest posthumous service that Engels s till renders his friend i s to take the blame for those bits of Marxist thought which some modern Marxists cannot or do not want to defend. It would obviously be unacceptable to suggest that there was no continuity between Marx's work and the later views of Engels. But, equally, the diver­ gences are there , and they go back a long way. The background and education of Engels and Marx were very different and must have had some influence on the later development of their thought . Because of his strong Pietist upbringing Engels had a hard struggle to free himself from his religious beliefs ; thus his materialist views tended to be more pronounced and more polemical than those of Marx, who seems never to have been at all attracted by religion . Also, Engels picked up his views in his sp are time while earning a living in business or the army and moved very rapidly toward his researches on economics and the work­ ing class ; in particular, he never went through the profound, systematic , full-time wrestling with

Conclusion: Engels and Marx


Hegel that Marx engaged in for seven arduous years before his espousal of communism. These differences tended to be reinforced by the unoffi­ cial division of labor between the two in their collective enterprise . Marx devoted himself to po­ litical economy, whereas Engels gave much of his attention to military history and, more particulady, to the natural sciences . Moreover, while Marx concentrated on investigating the more fun­ damental aspects of the materialist conception of history, Engels was saddled with the task of de­ fending their views in public- a task which almost of necessity involved oversimplification . The result of these differing b ackgrounds and preoccupations is cle arly shown by a comparison of Engels' Principles of Communism with the final draft of The Communist Manifes to , for which Marx alone was responsible . Marx , from his b ack­ ground of Hegel, Young Hegelianism , and French socialism , put emphasis on politics , on conscious­ ness , and on class struggle ; Engels, impressed by English political economy, spoke more of the economic consequences of technological growth and the Industrial Revolu tion . Marx's tre atment involved dialectical transitions which seemed to owe something to Hegel ; Engels had a concept of development that was determined by technology and owed more to the Enlightenment.




1 00

These differences were also apparent in their views of historical development and the nature of communism : whereas Marx came to see a mul­ tilinear development out of communal peasant society, Engels-particularly in the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State -saw only a unilinear path of development. But this diver­ gence is at its most striking in their portrayal of communist society . Engels' picture in Anti-Diihring is simple and optimistic. Once the means of pro­ duction have been seized by society, then men's social organisation which had hitherto stood in opposition to them as if arbitrarily de­ creed by nature and history, will become the vol­ untary act of men themselves. The obj ective , external forces which h ave hitherto dominated history will then pass under the control of men themselves. It is only from this point that men, with full consciousness, will fashion their own history ; i t is only from this point that the so­ cial causes set in motion by men will have , in predominantly increasing measure , the effects willed by men . It is humanity's leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom . Marx, by contrast, wrote in a well-known pas­ sage of Capital that in the re alm of productive labor,

Conclusion : Engels and Marx


freedom can only consist in socialized men, the associated producers , rationally regulating their interchange with nature , bringing it under their com mon control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of nature ; and achieving this with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most favourable to, and worthy of, their human n ature . But it nonetheless still re­ mains a realm of necessity . Beyond it begins that development of human energy which is an end in itself, the true realm of freedom which, how­ ever, can blossom forth only with this realm of necessity as its basis. The contrast between the two passages is marked. Marx is les s optimistic and more dialectical than Engels : necessity cannot be abolished but must be used as an ineradic able basis. This difference in attitude to the final form of human history is paralleled by th� divergence of Marx and Engels on its beginnings. It was Engels' acceptance of Morgan's views of the evolution of sexual relationships ( the least tenable part of his work ) that led him to adopt a Darwinian schema and interpret the dynamic of primitive society differently from tha t of later history. Marx paid much less attention to this area and centered his interests on the clan system . It was inside this economico-political framework that he considered



1 02

the social position of women ; Engels, by contrast, considered the variou s forms of promiscuity to be paramount. In general , Engels tended to contrast present society both with primitive communism and with future communism and to some extent s aw an idealized communism in the past as a model for the communism to come . In this he followed Rousseau. Marx, however, drew no such parallels and understood primitive communism in terms of contemporary society, itself viewed as a dialectical process giving birth to future communism . In this he followed Hegel . Engels' contribution to the legacy of Marx cul­ minated in the decisive role that he played in the tendency to transform Marx's views into a Wel­

tanschauung , a philosophical system, an interpre­ tation of the world. Both the huge growth of numbers in the Marxist Social Democratic Party, and the increasing prestige of the natural sciences as holding the key to human progress, served to facilitate this process. The growth in the number of adherents required a systematic doc trine that was easily understandable, and the prestige of the scientific outlook me ant that it had to be couched in similar term s , for the average member of the SPD was already strongly influenced by vulgar­ materialist accounts of the world . Engels' gifts as a quick and lucid writer- a vulgarizer in the best

Conclusion : Engels and Marx

1 03

sense of the word-admirably fitted him for the role of doctrinal mentor for the emergent Marxist movement. Even in hi s speech at Marx's graveside , he had declared : "Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature , so Marx discovered the law of development of human his­ tory." Thus began the gradual assimilation of Marx's views to a scientific world outlook . Of course Marx himself called his work scientific ( as did Hegel his ) , but in hi s work the term had less of a con­ notation of the methodology of natural science . It was mainly with Engels and his successors that the notion of "scientific socialism" became narrowed and progre ssively emasculated. It is significant in this context that the concept of "matter" of which Engels made such constant use in Anti-Dilhring and the Dialectics of Nature was entirely foreign to Marx's work. The laws of the dialectic were said by Engels to be operative in a nature that existed obj ectively and independent of the human mind. Thus the world of nature and the world of history fell apart into two separate fields of s tudy, whereas for Marx one of the central aspects of the dialectic consisted precisely in the interaction of man and hi s surroundings. For Marx, any attempt to construct a sort of obj ective basis for a study of the historical process outside that process itself ,



I 04

was doomed to failure : for all thought was social and its significance would only be grasped through a study of society. A specific illustration of this difference is the attitudes of Marx and Engels to Feuerbach . Whereas Marx had criticized Feuerbach for not understanding materialism in a historical way and therefore not viewing man's history as being con­ ditioned by his material needs, Engels attacked Feuerbach because he did not comprehend "the universe a s a process of matter undergoing unin­ terrupted historical development" and was there­ fore "ide alist." The very readiness of Engels to devote himself ( like his own disciple Plekhanov ) to a relatively lengthy study of Feuerbach is also symptomatic of his intere st in materialism as a philosophical interpretation of the world. Although Engels naturally cannot be saddled with the sole responsibility for the evolution of Marxist doctrine , it was to his authority that sub­ sequent Marxists often appealed-especially in the re alm of philosophy. Marxism became progres­ sively equated with dialectical materialism -a term totally absent not only from Marx but also from Engels (it was first used by Joseph Dietzgen during the

1 870s and popularized by Lenin's

teacher Plekhanov, who leaned heavily on Eng­ els ) . For on specifically philosophical questions ,

Conclusion: Engels and Marx

1 05

the leading theoreticians of the Second Inter­ national , with Kautsky at their head, were strongly influenced by Engels. Indeed, many of them had been led to Marxism by the readin g of Anti­ Dilhring . In Russia, too, Lenin's book on Materia l­

ism and Empirio-Criticism set a similar tone . This work ( unlike his subsequent Philosophical Note­ books ) was more to be valued for its political purpose-to prevent the Bolsheviks' being at­ tacked for unorthodoxy in philosophy-rather than for its philosophical value , which is very low. Lenin relied almost exclusively on quotation s from Engels; Marx was notably ab sent. Crude material­ ism is the most conservative of doctrines , and it is not surprising that, with the consolidation of the Stalinist regime , the vulgarizations of Engels should have become the main philosophical con­ tent of Soviet textbooks , a situation that is not much changed today. The reaction was inevitable : one of the first and most influential contributors was the Hungarian George Lukacs, who in his History and Class Con­

sciousn ess ( 1 92 1 ) proposed a very Hegelian read­ ing of Marx , which contrasted sharply with Eng­ els' version. And Lukacs was followed almost immediately by Karl Korsch with his Marxism and Philosophy. More decisively , the publication in the e arly l 93 o s of Marx's early and more humanist




writings helped t o give a diffe rent emphasis to western Marxism and produced a reaction against Engels' philosophical formulations , which tended to be associated almost exclusively with Stalinist dogmatism . Indeed, to most Marxist activists the question of the existence of a dialectic in nature ( as opposed to a dialectic in society ) seemed to be a

quasi-metaphysical problem very far removed

from pressing political and social concerns . And this reaction has only partly been mitigated by the more recent interest in structuralist versions of M arxism and in questions of Marx's methodology. Yet these considerations should in no way di­ minish our appreciation of the immense contribu­ tions of Engels to the socialist movement. Marx wrote of his friend that he was "a real encyclo­ paedia , ready for work at every hour of the day or night, quick to write and busy as the devil." It is indeed the universality of Engels' contribution that is striking. Although lacking, as he himself was the first to admit, the towering genius of Marx , Engels exploited his immense talents in the most varied direction s ; he was a first-rate linguist , a distinguished military critic, at least the equal of Marx as a historian, a pioneer in anthropology , and the acknowledged mentor of a dozen emer­ gent Marxist parties . Engels perhaps drew more than Marx on the intellectual legacy of the eigh-

Conclusion : Engels and Marx


teenth-century Enlightenment, and his very uni­ vers ality




p hilosophe.


mind He







unquenchable optimism of the Enlightenment and preserved to the end his belief in the imminence of a truly prole tarian revolution -a belief that would with difficulty have survived far into the more troubled twentieth century.

short bibliography index


Engels-unlike many other Marxists -is easy to read, having a clear s tyle with a minimum of j ar­ gon. This is pos sibly the reason why there are fewer commentaries on him than on almost any other maj or socialist thinker. All the more reason , there­ fore , for going dire ctly to the originals .

Complete Works A complete edition of the Works of Marx and Engels in English is currently being published by Lawrence & Wishart in London and International Publishers in New York. In all , it will amount to some fifty volumes. To date , the volumes up to the

Short Bibliography

I z2

end o f the 1 840s have been published ; completion will take a further ten years .

Selections The only selec tion of Engels' work in English is Engels, W. 0. Henderson, ed. , Harmondsworth , 1 967. There are several selections of Marx's and Engels' works together. Perhaps the most acces­ sible is Karl Marx , Frederick Engels, Selected Works , Moscow, 1 93 5 ( several reprints ) . This col­ lection has the advantage of reproducing excerpts in extenso , including the whole of The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State and Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome. of Classical Germ an Philosophy, and a substantial extract from Anti­ Diihring . Shorter extracts are contained in Marx and Engels , Basic Writing s on Politics and Philos­ ophy, L. Feuer, ed. , New York, 1 959 , and The Marx-Engels Reader, R. C. Tucker, e d . , New York, 1 972. There are also numerous selections of works by Marx and Engels under the titles On Religion , On Ireland, On Britain, On Literature and Art, and others , Moscow.

Individual Works Anti-Diihring , Ludwig Feuerbach , Dialectics of Na­ ture , and The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State have been translated into English and

Short Bibliography

I I a.

published in separate editions by Lawrence & Wish­ art and Internation al Publishers . The last-men­ tioned has a substantial introduction by Eleanor Leacock. Engels' articles on the German Revolu tion of 1 848-1 849 have been edited by Eleanor Marx under the title Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany in z 8 4 8, London , 1 97 1 . His writings on military matters are contained in Engels as Mili­ tary Critic , W. Henderson and 0. Chaloner, eds . , London , 1 959· The s ame editors produced a new translation of The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1 8 44 , Oxford, 1 958. The commen­ tary in this edition is very critical of Engels ; for the other side , see the Panther edition with an introduc­ tion by E. Hobsbawm , St. Albans, 1 969.

Commentaries A commentary on Engels' Condition o f the Work­ ing Class in Eng land in 1 8 44 from a literary and psychological point of view is S. Marcus, Engels, Manchester, and the Working Class, New York, 1 974· Of biographies, there is Gustave Mayer, Friedrich Engels , London , 1 936, an abridged edition in English which is but a pale shadow of Mayer's splendid two-volume biography in German , the best so far available . Grace Carlton's Friedrich Engels : The Shadow Prophet, London , 1 965, is rather thin. The Russian biography in English , Frederick Eng­ els : A Biography, Moscow, 1 974, contains a lot of

Short Bibliography

I 14

detail but is also an extreme example of hagiog­ raphy. The same i s true of the East German Fred­ erick Engels : A Biography, Dresden, 1 97 2 . W. 0 . Henderson's The Life of Friedrich Engels , 2 vols. , London, l 976, i s strong o n the personal side and also on the factual historical but is uniformly un­ symp athetic to Engels and has virtually no a ssess­ ment of him a s a theorist. For the personal side of Engels' later years , see also Y. Kapp , Eleanor Marx: The Crowded Years, London, 1 976. Gareth Sted­ man Jones is preparing a full-length study of Eng­ els which is expected to appear about 1 982.


Adler, Viktor, 74 Albert Club, 30

Aveling, Edward, 33, 76

American Civil War, 4 6

Baden rising of 1849, 4 6 ,

47 Anti-Bonapartism, 3 1

Bakunin, Mikhail, 76

Ancient Society (Morgan),

Anti-Dii.hring (Engels), 34, 45-4 6, 69, 7 9 , l 00, 103, 105

philosophy of, 8 1 -85

Aristocracy, 45, 46

Austrian Social Demo­

cratic Workers Party,


Austro-Hungarian empire, 65

Austro-Prussian War of 18 6 6, 46


Bax, Belfort, 75 Behel, August, 34, 37, 52 ,

68, 70 Bernstein, Eduard, 3 4-35,

3 6, 37, 58, 68, 70 , 72 Bismarck, Otto von , 35, 4 6, 6 9 Blank , Emil , 3 1 -32 Bolsheviks, 105

Bourgeoisie, 27, 30 , 45,

4 6 , 6 5 , 66, 73 communism and, 606 1 , 64



B u chner , Ludwi g, 8 1 , 8 2 Burns, Lizzie, 3 0 , 3 3 , 94 Burns, Mary, 29, 30, 94

2 3-24 , 39, 40-44, 6 06 1 , 6 2 , 97 Crimean War , 3 1 Critique of the Gotha Pro­

Californian gold mines , American annexation of, 6 5-66 Capital (Marx and Eng­ els) , 3 1 , 4 3 , 69, 97, 1 00 Marx's drafts of, 3 4-35 Capitalism , 50, 70-7 1 indictment of , 23-24 C arlyle, Thomas, 60 Chartist movement, 2 7 , 2 8 , 60, 75 Christianity, 1 9, 2 0 Class stru ggle , 2 1 , 57, 69, 75 Class Struggle in France, The (Marx) , 7 1 Commune of Paris , 47, 6 7 Communism, 20, 2 3 , 28 , 59, 8 8 , 1 0 0, 1 02 bourgeoisie and , 6 0-6 1 , 64 Engels' notion of, 6 0-64 See also Marxism Communist League , 2 526, 27, 28, 6 1 , 66 Communist Manifesto, The, 6 2 , 63-64, 69, 78, 96-97, 99 Condition of the Working Class in England in I 844,

The (Engels) ,

gramme (Marx) , 6 8 Critique of Political Econ­ omy (Marx) , 55, 58 Darwin, Charles, 52, 55, 81 Demuth , Frederick , 94 Demuth , Helene, 3 3 Deutsch-Franzosische ]ahrbucher, 2 2 , 96 Development of Capital­ ism in Russia, The (Lenin) , 78 Dialectical materialism, 88 , 9 1 , 1 04-1 0 5 Dialectics of Nature (Eng­ els) , 3 3-3 4 , 56, 80, 8 1 , 1 03 philosophy of , 85-8 8 , 90-9 1 Dietzgen, Joseph , 1 04 Dock Strike of 1 889 ( En­ gland) , 76 Diihrin g, Eugen, 34, 79, 8 2 , 83 Economic determinism, 56 Economic and Philosophi­ cal Manuscripts of I 844 (Marx) , 96 Einstein, Albert, 9 1 Engels (father) , l 5- 1 6 , 1 7 , 28-29, 3 1


Engels, Friedrich : birth of , 1 6 in Brussels, 24, 6 1


28-29, 3 2 , 74-75 , 95 Essen c e of Christianity ( Feuerbach ) , 1 9

businessman's apprenticeship, I 7 death of, 36-3 7 , 7 1 early years, 1 7-20 family background , I 516 in Manchester, 2 1 -2 2 , 2 8-3 2 , 67, 94 marriage of, 3 3 military service , 1 8 , 2 0 newspaper career, 2 1 2 2 , 2 6 , 2 7 , 3 1 , 46 , 6 2 , 9 5 , 96 in Paris, 22-2 3 , 2 5-26,

Feuerbach , Ludwig, 1 9 , 2 0-2 1 attitudes of Marx and Engels to , 1 04 Feuerbachian humanism, 59 First International, 67, 7 5 , 76 Franco-Prussian War of 1 870, 46-47 Fred erick William IV, King, 1 9 French Revolution, 1 6 , 64

6 1 , 96-97 retirem ent ( 1 8 6 9 ) , 3 2 science and mathe­ matics research ( 1 870s ) , 33 SPD politics and, 3 5 , 68-74 , 8 0 , 1 02 understanding of Hegel, 8 8-9 1 in the U . S. ( 1 8 88 ) , 3 6 See also names of writings Engels, Johann Casp ar, 1 5 Enlightenment, 99, 1 07 Erfurt Congress of 1 89 1 , 3 5 , 68, 73 Ermen, Godfrey and Pe ter, 16, 28, 32 Ermen and Engels ( firm ) ,

German Ideology, The ( Marx and Engels ) , 5 5 , 6 1 , 6 2 , 96-97 German Social Democratic Party ( SPD ) , 3 5 , 6874, 1 02 Gotha Congress of 1 8 7 5 , 3 5 , 68 Gre at Exhibition of 1 8 5 1 ( London ) , 2 7-28 Guesd e , Jules, 74 Gumpert, Dr. , 3 1 Haeckel , Ernst, 82 Harney, George Julian, 28 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1 8- 1 9 , 8 3 , 8 6 , 88-9 1 , 99


i r.8

Hegelianism , I 8 , I 9 , 2 0 , 84 Hess, Moses ("the commu­

Liebknech t, Wilhelm, 3 5 , 68 Ludwig Feuerbach and the

nist rabbi" ) , 2 0-2 I ,

Outcom e of Classical


German Philosophy

Historical materialism, 5 5 , 58, 75 History and Class Con­

(Engels ) , 79-80, 8 8 Lukacs, George, I 0 5 Luther, Martin, 4 5

sciousness (Lukacs ) , I OS Holy Family, The (Marx and Engels ) , 96-97 Hyndman, H. M . , 7 5

Marx, Eleanor, 29, 3 2 , 3 3 , 3 7 , 76 Marx, Jenny, 3 2 Marx, Karl , 2 I , 2 9 , 3 0 , 3 5 , 3 9 , 4 3 , 44, 4 7 , 53 , 55,

Imperialism, 6 5-66 Industrial Revolution, I 6 , 40, 99 International Socialist Movement, 3 3 Italian Workers Party, 74 Kautsky, Karl, 3 3 , 34-3 5 , 3 6 , 68, I 0 5 Kautsky , Louise, 3 3 Korsch, Karl, I o5

56-57, 58, 60, 6 I -6 2 , 63 , 64, 6 6 , 68, 69, 7 I , 7 7 , 82 , 8 8 bohemian reputation of, 93 death of, 3 3 , 34 in England , 24, 2 7-28, 32-3 3 , 67 in Paris, 22-26, 96-9 7 relationship with Eng­ els, 92- I o 7 Marxism, 3 5 , 3 8 , 58, 6 8 , 69-7 0, 7 2 , 7 8 , 92, 96,

Labriola, Antonio, 74

98; See also Commu­

Lafargue, Paul , 3 6 , 74, 93


Lassalle, Ferdinand, 3 5 , 68 League o f the Just, 2 5 Lenin, V. I . , 7 8 , I o4 , I 05

Marxism and Philosophy (Korsch ) , I 0 5

. Materialism and EmpirioCriticism (Lenin), I OS

Leupold, Consul , I 7

Monogamy, 53

Liberal Party (England ) ,

Moore, Samuel , 3 I

75 Liebig, Justus von, 8 0

Morgan, Lewis, 47-48, 50, 52, I O I


Morris, William, 7 5 Munzer, Thomas, 4 5

11 9

Principles of Communism ( Engels ) , 62-6 3 , 64 , 99

Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 26, 2 7 , 6 2

New York Daily Tribune,

Pump s ( niece o f Lizzie Burns ) , 3 3 Puritan s , 1 6

3 1 , 95 Rationalism, 1 6 "On Au thority" ( Engels ) , 53-54

Origin of the Family, Pri­ vate Property and the State, The ( En gels ) , 3 4 , 47-55, 1 00

Our Differences ( Ple­ khanov ) , 78 "Outlines of a Critique of Politic al Economy" ( Engels ) , 2 2 , 39-40 , 4 3 , 60, 96

Reich stag elec tions of 1 877, 7 0

Revolution and Counter­ Revolution in Ger­ many in I 848 ( Eng­ els ) , 66 Revolu tions of 1 848, 2 5 , 2 6 , 62, 64

Rheinische Zeitung (news­ paper), 2 0 , 2 1 , 2 2 Rousseau, Je an-Jacque s , 1 02

Owenite s , 6 0

Russia, 76-78, 1 05

Pall Mall Gazette , 4 7 Past and Present ( C ar­

S aint Simon, Comte de,

lyle ) , 60

Peasant War in Germany, The ( Engels ) , 45

20-2 1 S assoulitch, Vera, 7 7-78 Schiller Institute, 30 Schelling, Friedrich, 1 9-

Pietism, 16, 5 9 , 98 Plekhanov, Georgi, 77, 7 8 , 1 04

Schleimacher, Friedrich ,

Po and Rhine (Engels), 46

Schorlemmer , Karl , 3 1

20, 87 17

Poland , 65

Second International, 36

Populism, 77-78

Shaw, George Bernard , 76

Primitive communism,

Social Democra tic Federa-

1 02

tion , 75



Socialism, Utopian and

Utopian socialism, 20

Scientific ( Engels ) ,

46 , 6 9 S ocialis t League , 7 5 S traus s , David, 1 6 Suffrage , 7 1 Switzerl and, 26-27 Theories of Surplus Value

( ed. Kau tsky ) , 35 Theses on Feuerbach

( Marx ) , 88 Tkachev, Peter, 7 1 Trade unionism, 73 , 7 5 Turati, Filippo, 74 Utopian communism, 24

Vo gt, Karl , 82 Weltanschauung , 87, 1 02

Willich, Au gu st von, 27 Women under Socialism

( Behel ) , 52 Young German Movement, 1 7- 1 8 Young Hegelian Move­ ment, 1 8-1 9, 20, 2 1 , 24, 5 9, 9 6-97, 99 Zurich Congress, 36

A Pen g u i n Boo k

" Th e obje ctive, external forces which have hith erto

dominated h istory, will . . . pass under the con trol of m en themselves . . . . It is h u m anity's leap from th e realm o f n e cessity into the realm of freedom." -F r i e d r i c h E n g e l s T h e m i l l i o n s of p eo p l e a ro u n d t h e wo r l a w h o p l e d g e a l l eg i a n c e to com m u n i s m o w e t h e i r u n de rstan d­ i n g of co m m u n i st d o c t r i n e p r i m a r i l y to F r i e d r i c h E n g e l s. Fo r t h i s r e a s o n E n g e l s , f-a r from bei ng m e r e l y Ka r l M a rx ' s a l te r e g o , i s a " m o d e rn m aster" in h i s own r i g h t . I n d eed , it i s E n g e l s who e l a b o rated the c e n t r a l M a rx i s t t h e o ry t h at came to b e known as d i a l ect i c a l m at e r i a l i s m . In t h i s l u c i d vo l u m e D av i d M c le l l a n revi ews E n g e l s ' l i fe a n d h i s h i s­ to r i c a l , p o l i t i c a l , a n d ph i l o so p h i cal i deas a n d t h e n c l a ri f i e s t h e d i sti n ct i v e aspects of h i s a p p ro a c h w h e n c o m p a re d w i t h M a rx's.

Cover d e s i g n b y Abner G raboff

Political Science


ISBN 0 1 4

00.4935 5